Arriva Trains Wales: ‘Shambolic’ rail link under fire from Shropshire MPs
Rail services run by Arriva Trains Wales have been branded “shambolic” after it was announced the firm has pulled out of the bidding process for the Wales and Border franchise.
Local MPs say the news has come as no surprise following scores of complaints about the level of service.
The company announced this week that it intends to withdraw from the bidding process for the next Wales and Borders rail franchise. It was one of four rail providers shortlisted as the preferred bidders for services on the new Wales and Borders franchise which will begin in October 2018.
But the existing franchise holder said it had been proud to provide rail transport for Wales and the borders for 14 years.
The routes through Shropshire include the Shrewsbury to Chester, Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth and Cardiff to Shrewsbury.
Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski said people in Shrewsbury had been very dissatisfied with the service which included overcrowding and poor punctuality.
“Many constituents have raised issues including overfilled and dirty carriages,” he said.
He added: “We must have clean and punctual trains, new rolling stock and additional services. We need someone who can restore confidence in the service.
“The current service is shambolic.”
North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson said: “We need newer, larger, faster, cleaner and more reliable trains. There is just not enough room on these trains at the moment.”
He said the last franchise had been based on a wrong assumption of falling passenger numbers.
“The Labour administration in Cardiff asked for bids based on declining passenger number and got it completely wrong. Arriva won the bid with minimum investment and then passenger numbers rocketed.”
“We must insist that the new franchise includes a half-hourly service from Shrewsbury to Birmingham Airport and Shrewsbury to Manchester Airport.”
He said he would be organising talks with the remaining shortlisted companies, Abellio Rail Cymru, KeolisAmey and MTR Corporation (Cymru) Ltd.
A spokesperson for Transport for Wales said: “Arriva Trains Wales have notified Transport for Wales that they intend to withdraw from the bidding process for the next Wales and Borders rail franchise.
“It is not uncommon for bidders for major projects to withdraw during the tender process and Arriva have been clear they have done this for their own commercial reasons. The procurement process is a tough and demanding one and we recognise Arriva’s extensive work to date.
“We would like to thank the company for their support and positive attitude since the procurement started and we will continue to work closely with the company to ensure that existing staff and customers are central to our transition planning over the next 12 months.
“With final tenders due later this year, we have three companies with world-class credentials each putting their own, distinct cases for how they will deliver the ambitious objectives we set, with the goal of delivering a step chance in rail services for passengers across Wales and the Borders.”
Arriva Trains Wales’ parent company Arriva said it “had been proud” providing rail transport in Wales for almost 14 years.
“We will continue to work constructively with TfW to help make the next franchise a success and build upon the legacy that Arriva has built with Arriva Trains Wales,” said an Arriva statement.
“We remain fully committed to delivering for our customers.”