1. ITV Report

Welsh Government: New train operator to retain safety critical guard

Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Archive/PA Images

The new operators of trains in Wales will keep a safety critical guard on services, ministers have announced.

A shortlist of four companies will be invited to tender for the Wales & Borders franchise, with a preferred bidder revealed in early 2018.

The Welsh Government said it was committed to keep a safety critical conductor/guard on all trains, including heavy rail Metro services.

The commitment follows a "clear public response" in consultations, where more than 90% of respondents said a second member of staff was either quite important or essential in the Wales and Borders region.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union is staging two 24-hour strikes next week on Southern, Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Greater Anglia in disputes over the role of guards and driver-only trains.

Our hard-working railway staff are a major asset in delivering a modern and safe railway, and it is right that they are central to our ambitious plans for the new Wales & Border Services and South Wales Metro.

I am, therefore, delighted that we have been able to have such positive and constructive discussions with the railway trade unions, something I have been keen to ensure from the offset.

These are progressive commitments that will mean a better service for passengers and a better railway in Wales, and I look forward to this positive dialogue continuing as we develop our plans.

– Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister

Abellio Rail Cymru, Arriva Rail Wales, Keolis Amey and MTR Corporation (Cymru) Ltd have been invited by the Welsh Government to submit final tenders for the next Wales and Borders rail service, which will come into force in October 2018.

The First Minister's welcome commitment to keep a guard on every train is a breakthrough for our campaign against driver-only trains and for our campaign for a safe, secure and accessible railway, not only in Wales but also nationwide.

Our policy is for a national integrated railway under public ownership and we will continue to campaign for that objective

– Mick Cash. General Secretary, RMT