Advertising

Wales' trains to be run by European consortium

By James Pugh | Shrewsbury | Business | Published:

A joint venture between French and Spanish companies has been given a £ 5 billion contract to run rail services in Wales, including those running through Shropshire.

Arriva, which has been operating the franchise for 15 years, pulled out of the bidding last year

France's Keolis and Spanish-owned Amey's won the 15-year contract ahead of Hong Kong-based MTR.

The routes through Shropshire include the Shrewsbury to Chester, Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth and Cardiff to Shrewsbury lines.

Keolis/Amey already runs Greater Manchester Metrolink and London's Docklands Light Railway, among others.

But full details of its plans for Wales will not be revealed until next month.

Arriva, which has been operating the franchise for 15 years, pulled out of the bidding last year.

A statement by the Welsh Government said: "Final tenders were received from three companies in December 2017.

"One of those tenders was subsequently withdrawn and the two remaining bids were evaluated, with each bid being assessed for its quality, robustness and ability to deliver on the Welsh Government's policy priorities, as set out in 'Rail Services for the Future'.

Advertising

"Throughout the procurement process we have prioritised investment in the quality of trains, stations and services for the Wales and Borders Rail Service and South Wales Metro."

Rail, Maritime and Transport union general secretary Mick Cash said: "RMT policy is for a national integrated railway under public ownership, and the Welsh Government has made it clear that this is their aspiration as well if they did not have to work under the pro-privatisation legislative straitjacket imposed by the UK Government.

"The fact that rail privatisation is being enforced on the people of Wales by Whitehall is even more galling when the Tories have been forced to nationalise East Coast and the Westminster cross-party Public Accounts Committee have said the rail franchising model is broken.

"However, RMT welcomes the fact that despite these constraints the Welsh Government has committed to keep a guard on every train alongside other commitments to work with RMT to protect jobs and conditions of rail workers in Wales."

Advertising

The move continues the awarding of contracts to run rail services in the UK by foreign firms, often state owned.

Welsh Economy Secretary Ken Skates said: "Throughout the procurement process we have prioritised investment in the quality of trains, stations and services for the Wales and Borders Rail Service and South Wales Metro.

"We are grateful to all those who have participated in the procurement process."

He said no further comment would be made until the end of the 10-day standstill period.

Keolis is France's largest private sector public transport operator – but its major shareholder is state-owned railway SNCF.

Amey was a one-time UK company bought by the Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial, which is the key shareholder and manager of Heathrow airport.

Andy Milner, Amey's chief executive, said: "While the proposed changes won't happen overnight, the railway will be unrecognisable in five years thanks to the vision of the Welsh Government."

He added they would focus on working with TfW to transform the existing infrastructure and introduce new trains to "significantly improve the passenger experience" as well as creating hundreds of new jobs and apprenticeships.

Alistair Gordon, chief executive of Keolis UK, said it would be a transformative new rail service and see it combine its worldwide expertise in passenger operations with Amey's "engineering excellence".

James Pugh

By James Pugh
@JamesP_Star

Shropshire Star Business and Farming Editor.

Advertising

Top stories

Advertising

More from Shropshire Star

UK & International News