Shropshire rail users to see changes on the line as Arriva departs
For 15 years their turquoise liveried trains have been seen across Shropshire.
But on Sunday it will be all change for Arriva Trains Wales.
Having held the franchise for rail travel in Wales and the Welsh Borders since 2003, the company will be handing over control to French-Spanish firm KeolisAmey, which will trade under the banner of Transport for Wales Rail Services.
And to mark the event, Arriva Trains Wales has taken the opportunity to thank its many loyal and patient passengers.
Since taking over the Wales and Borders Franchise in 2003, and the management of 13 stations in Shropshire, the company says it has seen unprecedented passenger growth far exceeding expectations.
At Shrewsbury Railway Station alone it says customer numbers have increased from one million in 2003 to two million last year.
One of the key reasons has been the increase in services across the rail network an enhanced service on the Cambrian line between Shrewsbury and the West Wales coastal towns of Aberystwyth and Pwllheli as well as more regular services towards Telford and Birmingham.
Shrewsbury Station has seen significant improvements with more than £800,000 being invested through the National Station Improvement Programme in recent years to create new waiting rooms, toilets and a passenger information desk and the introduction of the Starbucks café.
Thanks to close partnership working with Network Rail and local councils the operator has installed digital screens at Craven Arms, Gobowen, Prees, Ludlow, Whitchurch, Yorton and Knighton, where the station sits just on the Shropshire side of the border.
New benches and ticket machines have also been installed at Wem, Ludlow, Church Stretton, Craven Arms and Whitchurch.
Customer services director Bethan Jelfs said: “We really would like to thank all our customers from Shropshire for their loyalty and support during the past 15 years.
“We’ve been very proud to provide rail services in the area and to have helped give communities more options than ever before in terms of the number of services running.
“Shropshire has always been at a key point in our network, with links to Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, London and Aberystwyth, as well as the beautiful Heart of Wales line.
“The growth we’ve seen is phenomenal, but with that growth has led to some services becoming very busy at peak times of the day and despite our best efforts it has been difficult to acquire additional trains to meet the demand.
“We recognise there have been challenges along the way but we are proud to have always done our best to run an efficient and reliable service for all our customers which is reflected in our performance.
“As we complete the franchise, we can be pleased to have left the railway in a much stronger position than it was in 2003.”