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Threat to local train services?

 
Created on 17/08/2017 @ 14:27
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A wrangle between the UK and Welsh Governments could have a direct impact on the future of train services in Newtown and Caersws.

The dispute has put the bidding process for the Wales and Border trains franchise on hold after a letter leaked earlier this week from Transport Minister Chris Grayling raised questions over the work done by the Welsh Government, and said their plea for £1 billion extra funding had “no basis”.

The current local service is run by Arriva who are one of four companies that has expressed an interest in the next 15-year franchise, which was set to be announced in January with the winning bid expected to receive up to £160m a year in support.

The process was due to start this week but has now been put on hold for six weeks due to the row.
It hasn’t gone down well with Welsh Assembly Shadow Transport Minister and Montgomeryshire Assembly Member Russell George.

“There is a row between two governments but the only thing people will be worried about is having trains on time, wifi, the right facilities and access and that is what they want," he said.

“We want the links to be there for Mid Wales, and we hope this row is resolved as soon as possible so we can move to the next franchise.

“If it is further delayed it will mean Arriva continuing to operate and we might not get as good a service continuing until a decision has been made.

“The franchise is for 15 years so the government has to get this right.”

In his letter, Mr Grayling cited unresolved issues such as transfer of ownership of lines between the government and Network Rail, and Welsh and UK civil servants failing to agree how the Welsh Government will exercise powers over English train stations served by the franchise.

He also makes a reference to a dispute over payments and said the Welsh Government could not cut corners.

Rail travel has become popular once again for local residents since an hourly service was introduced last year.

Photo: A train on the Cambrian Railway (© Owain Betts)

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