Welsh Government Takes Wales & Borders Franchise under Public Control

As a result of the overwhelming drop in passenger numbers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Welsh Government has made the decision to bring the Wales & Borders franchise under public control.

A new publicly owned subsidiary of Transport for Wales will take responsibility for day-to-day rail services from February 2021. The new arrangement will also include a new partnership with the existing franchisee partners Keolis and Amey. There is to be a new financing and operational model, the details of which are currently being hammered out.

The Welsh Government has made this decision following the end to rail franchising in England.

Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, said:

“The last few months have been extremely challenging for public transport in Wales and across the UK. Covid has significantly impacted passenger revenues and the Welsh Government has had to step in with significant support to stabilise the network and keep it running.

“We have decided to transfer of day to day rail services to a new publicly owned subsidiary of Transport for Wales.

“In Wales we continue a partnership approach between TfW and Keolis Amey as we work together to protect services for the Welsh public, safeguard jobs and secure the important Metro projects we have been working so hard on over the last few years.”

Rail passengers in Wales dropped to 5 percent of pre-Covid levels during the peak of the pandemic. Since then passenger numbers have recovered somewhat but as a vital service, rail services must remain running even when trains are carrying very low passenger numbers, which makes them unprofitable.

KeolisAmey became the Wales & Borders franchisee in 2018, operating at Transport for Wales Rail Services.

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