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  1. ITV Report

One year of Transport for Wales: What is the state of our rail service?

Today marks one year since Transport for Wales took responsibility for rail services across Wales - so what is the state of the train network in Wales?

TfW said it is investing £194 million to improve every railway station across their network. Credit: Transport for Wales

Over the past twelve months, TfW said it has put the customer "at the heart of their decisions" and has outlined an ambitious plan to significantly improve rail services in Wales over the course of the next six years.

But, ITV Wales has spoken to passengers who travel on the network regularly and say overcrowding, delays to services and poor conditions is a common occurrence.

Steve Fletcher commutes each day from Llanishen into Cardiff city centre via train.

He told ITV Wales he has not seen an improvement since TfW took over the franchise from Arriva Trains Wales last year.

Steve is a regular commuter into Cardiff city centre

There's one or two more carriages so the route I take, you'll probably get on board but you won't be able to get a seat - and they are still not on time.

It's uncomfortable - you're face-to-face with people - it's hot and sweaty on the trains. It's unpleasant.

– Steve Fletcher, Rail passenger

He said the autumn season can be a particularly disruptive time but says the rail operators "should be prepared" for the wet conditions.

"What we see is more cancellations, we see more people then on later trains", Steve said. "It's crowded, you're left behind at the station - it's just not a great experience this time of year".

Our reporter was unable to board one of the trains heading into the capital

ITV Wales reporter Mike Griffiths travelled on a number of rush-hour morning trains heading into Cardiff.

He experienced some instances of overcrowding including being left unable to board one train in Llanishen.

34.1M
Passenger journeys between 2018 and 2019

When Transport for Wales took over the rail contract one year ago, it published a timeline outlining what was going to change and when over the course of the next few years.

So far, the majority of those promises are on track.

  • Stations are in the process of being deep cleaned and rebranded.
  • New services have launched between Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool.
  • From December, there will be space on Valley line trains for an additional 6500 commuters a week.

But despite a promise that the ageing Pacer trains would be taken off the network completely by the end of this year, they will now remain into 2020.

TFW operator says that is to increase capacity on the busiest routes.

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Transport for Wales said some other key achievements in the past 12 months include introducing "delay repay 15" - which was launched so customers can claim for delays of 15 minutes or more.

TfW said it is also investing £194 million to improve every railway station across their network.

TfW has also invested in upgrading existing trains, which includes refurbishing seats, new technology and better toilets.

Colin Lea, Customer Experience Director at TfW said, "We've ordered 148 trains but they do take about three years to come. In the mean time, we didn't want to stand still because we know we've got a back log in Wales - some very very old trains. We're also putting on board new technology and making the experience better."

Mr Lea showed Mike Griffiths around some of the new upgraded trains

Every day, everyone is working really hard to get as many trains as we possibly can out there whilst also accepting we need to take them out to do changes to make sure they are compatible with the latest disability regulations and improve the interiors - and that's a balance and we're doing everything we can to make that better.

Come December, there's a big change to the timetable with this extra capacity in the Valleys in particular, which will make a fundamental difference.

– Colin Lea, Customer Experience Director at TfW
Many of the existing trains have been refurbished and upgraded

James Price, Transport for Wales CEO said, “It has been an exciting and challenging first year and we are proud to have started transforming the rail service for the people of Wales through delivering on our promises.

“We are implementing some ambitious programmes that will help us to improve the customer experience. Work has started on our railway stations; modernising them, making them safer and more accessible for local businesses and communities."