Welsh Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence from Arriva Trains Wales

Question 1: The extent to which cross-border public road and rail services are currently provided for and accessed by the Welsh population

The key cross-border routes for Arriva Trains Wales are between North Wales and Chester to Manchester, Aberystwyth/Pwllheli to Shrewsbury and Birmingham International, West Wales and Cardiff to Crewe and Manchester and between South Wales and Cheltenham.

Arriva Trains Wales also provides important rail/sea connections for Ireland at both Holyhead and Fishguard Harbour which also feed into our cross-border routes.

We also serve important airports including Birmingham Airport, Cardiff Airport (via a bus link) and Manchester Airport.

In total, Arriva Trains Wales carries approximately 26 million passenger journeys a year across the Wales and Borders network, which has grown by 60% since the Franchise was let in 2003. Our busiest routes include the journey legs between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International, Chester and Manchester and the route between Cardiff and Manchester.

The recent May 2012 timetable changes have delivered over a third of a million new seats on our busiest routes through increasingly efficient use of our limited fleet of trains. This includes:

extra seats for Telford and Birmingham in the morning commuter period;

extra seats between Birmingham and Aberystwyth in the mid-morning period;

extra seats and extra services between Chester and Llandudno Junction in the mid-afternoon and evening commuter period; and

improved connections with ferry services from Ireland at Holyhead.

Question 2: The arrangements currently in place to co-ordinate cross-border road and rail transport service provision

Arriva Trains Wales and Welsh Government hold bi-annual meetings with all cross-border Rail Transport Officials including Department for Transport to develop and look at ways of improving train service provision. Regional Transport Consortia, with which ATW meets regularly, often raise issues and present new development ideas relating to cross-border rail services provision.

Daily contact with key representatives in Welsh Government provides regular opportunity to develop and implement improvements to services, including development of timetables, capacity management and the identification of new funding opportunities with other third parties.

Question 3: The potential impact on Wales of the plans for a High Speed 2 (HS2) Rail Service between London, the Midlands and North of England

Arriva Trains Wales’ franchise ends in 2018, before the full implementation and commissioning of the HS2. It is likely that the structure and format of the current franchise will evolve, meaning that the impact of the HS2 scheme may not be appropriate to postulate against the current network, franchise agreement and contained service provision.

Some presumptions can be made, that with the additional capacity provided by HS2, demand on existing routes may decrease, resulting in additional pathways through key hubs such as Birmingham and Crewe, providing additional pathing opportunities for a Wales and Borders Train Operating Company.

Question 4: The funding of cross-border transport infrastructure

Arriva Trains Wales, as a Train Operating Company, is not directly responsible for infrastructure. However, we do work closely with partners including Welsh Government, Network Rail and Department for Transport to guide and support infrastructure development. This can be within the remit of performance and reliability improvement projects, capacity improvement projects, station improvements and fleet refurbishment and enhancement projects. Arriva Trains Wales is currently working with Network Rail on the delivery of a major signalling upgrade in the Cardiff Area (CASR). This will release extra capacity through Cardiff, a major hub in Wales, resulting in the potential for improved services on cross-border routes. We are also exploring with Network Rail how to improve capacity and line speeds between Newport, Shrewsbury and Chester to meet the aspirations of Welsh Government in delivering improved North—South Wales journey times, whilst also addressing the growth in passenger numbers on English and Cross Border flows between Cardiff and Manchester.

Fleet capacity is a major consideration. Some of the highest passenger growth figures have been seen on cross-border services and Arriva Trains Wales is already delivering over 20% more capacity than its contract stipulates. Arriva Trains Wales has re-deployed resources to provide the maximum level of capacity possible, however currently no long term plans are in place to secure more rolling stock to address crowding which is causing passenger discomfort and stifling further growth. We are however currently in talks with Department for Transport and Travel for Greater Manchester regarding the securing of additional capacity on the route between Chester and Manchester.

Question 5: The progress made on improving co-ordination between the Welsh Government and Department for Transport on cross-boundary issues and matters of strategic importance

Arriva Train Wales has taken initiatives to improve Cross Border services in consultation with the Welsh Government and the Department for Transport. One specific example of the close and productive working relationship is shown in the recent May 2012 timetable change, a step change in terms of targeted and efficient use of finite resources to the benefit of cross-border rail travel. Other examples include the unlocking of funding for numerous infrastructure improvements and close partnership working in assisting with business cases for electrification of parts of the Arriva Trains Wales network.

June 2012

Prepared 5th March 2013