The firms bidding for the new Wales rail franchise will be asked to look at alternatives for delivering electrification of the main valley lines services. The Welsh Government has told them that the planned £350 million "conventional electrification" is not the only option.
The four bidders have been told that diesel-only services must end on all services using Cardiff Queen Street station, leaving three options:
- Conventional electrification, with overhead wires
- Stored energy systems, using the latest battery technology
- Hybrid systems, which could combine diesel and electricity
Asked if the potentially cheaper alternatives to conventional electrification would be a permanent solution or only used until overhead wires were installed, a Welsh Government spokesperson said it was a question that would be discussed with the bidders over the coming months.
The plans announced by the Economy Secretary, Ken Skates, also include a series of requirements aimed at improving the quality of all trains on the Wales and Border routes.
- High quality rolling stock with wifi, passenger information displays and adequate space for luggage and bicycles
- All carriages to be suitable for passengers with reduced mobility
- Extra capacity to cope with existing and forecast growth in passenger numbers so no one has to stand for more than 20 minutes
- Rapid boarding and alighting on South Wales Metro services in particular