Shropshire Star

Frustrated Transport for Wales train passengers get to vent problems at deputy minister

A Welsh Government deputy minister has heard from a regional train company's passengers about some of the problems they have been experiencing.

Last updated
Welsh Government minister Lee Waters heard from rail users

Delays cancellations, and overcrowding are just some of the reasons Lee Waters, who holds the deputy role in the government's climate change portfolio, took a trip with Transport for Wales passengers.

Mr Waters, who holds responsibility for transport took a journey on the Wrexham to Bidston line north of Shropshire to "experience problems that have been reported by passengers over recent months and front up to criticism".

On the train he was able to learn more about the issues from members of the Wrexham-Bidston Rail Users’ Association.

Similar issues have dogged the train company on its routes through Shropshire.

Mr Waters was then able to discuss the issues with leaders of Flintshire and Chester and Cheshire West Council and has now tasked Transport for Wales with developing a plan to improve the service.

"It is fair to say there have been a number of challenges for rail services in Wales in recent months and the issues on this line have not been good enough," he said.

"I wanted to take time to travel on the line today to see first-hand some of the frustrations passengers are facing on a daily basis.

"We like to celebrate success, but it is also important for us to hold our hands up when things are not good enough."

Jan Chaudhry-Van der Velde, TfW's managing director, admitted it has been a frustrating few months for passengers on the Wrexham-Bidston line.

"First the line lost its train service, with replacement buses running, due to the withdrawal of a significant part of our train fleet caused by engine safety problems," he said.

"This led to an extensive repair programme being required. This was followed by the introduction of refurbished Class 230 trains on the route, which have seen teething problems with rolling stock technical issues and poor timekeeping.

"We apologise to passengers on the line for these problems.

"We are putting in place a series of initiatives to get the line back to reliable train service, focussing on stabilising the new rolling stock reliability and train crew familiarisation in the first instance.

"Once this is accomplished, we can start to plan a higher frequency service.

"The refurbished Class 230 trains represent a step improvement in train quality for the line, and we are confident they will deliver the aspirations of stakeholders and customers as we work through the plan."