Penarth AM Andrew R T Davies is demanding to know the reasons for the chaos on Welsh Labour Government-run railways since the transfer from Arriva last month

Andrew R T Davies,  Conservative Assembly Member for South Wales Central (which includes Penarth) is demanding an official inquiry into the chaos on the railways in Wales following the transfer – last month – of the  former Arriva Trains franchise to the Welsh Labour Government’s “Transport for Wales” quango .

Transport for Wales had claimed that the reason a third of their 127 trains have had to undergo repairs was because of “Storm Callum” – (a storm so long ago that everyone’s now forgotten about it) – and TfW officers also came out with that time-worn excuse “leaves on the line”. 

Welsh Labour Government Transport Minister Ken Skates is now blaming the German-run former rail franchise holder Arriva Trains Wales for “poor maintenance” of its rolling stock

Yesterday  however, the REAL reason for the chaos emerged when the Welsh Government’s transport minister Ken Skates admitted  in the Welsh Assembly that Transport for Wales had not been given “full and proper access” before the franchise handover to inspect the fleet, which he claimed had been “very poorly maintained” by the predecessor German company Arriva Trains Wales.

Andrew RT Davies has now written to the Welsh Assembly’s “economy, infrastructure and skills committee” – demanding an inquiry into the widespread train cancellations, disruption and resultant overcrowding that’s occurred . Mr Davies says  “As well as severe overcrowding, there have been numerous delays and cancellations, with a lack of rolling stock to blame and no spare parts to patch up the current fleet.”

“We’re led to believe that around a third, possibly even up to a half of all trains in Wales are out of action, and it’s clear the handover from the previous franchise holders, Arriva Trains Wales, has been poorly executed.”

Today the Transport for Wales chief executive James Price told the Welsh Assembly cvommittee that  his team didn’t get enough access to the Arriva Trains fleet before the handover

Meanwhile the Chief Executive of Transport for Wales James Price is giving evidence to the Welsh Assembly’s “economy committee” along with the Director of Rail Operations Alexia Course.

He has admitted that 20 trains suddenly went out of action over just one weekend with “wheel flats” and that his team did not get enough access to Arriva rolling stock before the handover.

Transport for Wales trains are still the old Arriva rolling stock

PENARTH SERVICES:  Rail services between Penarth and Cardiff  have continued to operate to schedule this week – but at the end of last week there had been confusion when Transport for Wales published details on its website of a “rail replacement bus service” due to begin from Penarth yesterday (Wednesday).

Subsequently this information was said to have been a “draft” document and was withdrawn by TFW .


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  1. Lucille W says:

    Chaos? What chaos? Political opportunism.

  2. Nigel Bull says:

    So you know…….

    Apparently not all trains have been braking and using sand boxes(that enables braking during conditions of poor friction, this time with leaves) optimally. This has caused skids that wear flats on the wheels and from that vibrations when in use.

    To turn the wheels true again takes about 1/2 a day(with one wheel lathe there is limited capacity in the Canton depot) and and between 1/2 and a full day to realign suspension and speed systems on each axle(again there is limited labour capacity) The wheels have outer steel “tyres” that can be turned to make good a number of times, but after a while they have to be replaced. The problem here is that there are only so many spare axle sets available to exchange, so there is another bottleneck, before even considering the capacity of the depot (not Canton) to replace those wheel “tyres” and the “temporary loss” of wheels in transit.

    The leaf issue clearly only occurred after the handover of the franchise, so that falls upon the new regime. That said only the very top layer of the organisation changed, so there are clearly problems from the top to the bottom of the organisation when there were at one time last week 37 out of 137 trains out of action in the depot!

    Since virtually every train is in Canton every night, access should not be an issue. When inspection was wanted to be done and by who is a different matter. As for general maintenance, it is a condition of the lease(none were owned by Arriva or are by TFW) that they are maintained correctly. If TFW has acted correctly, there could be some legal redress here, if none is actioned, it could well be failings on the part of TFW that caused some of these problems!

    I travel by car!

    • NewsNet says:

      This morning Network Rail’s rail-cleaning regime was amongst the factors blamed by TFW’s CEO. This apparently is suitable for trains with anti-skid braking systems – but most of the old “Arriva Trains Wales ” units don’t have anti-lock braking. TfW promised by this time next year all its trains will be equipped with such systems.

  3. Ian Perry says:

    Leaves on the track damage wheels – “wheel flats”.

    The problems are due to the Tory franchise system, and the restraints this puts on operators.

    • snoggerdog says:

      this selling off the network then franchising out works well for the torys because as you have heard they distance themselves from any blame,so they give the franchise to any foreign company who puts their hand up,then blame that company when things go bosoms up! the reality is our politicians are nothing more than unskilled pen pushers who soon learn to talk themselves out of most situations,i suppose us brits get what we deserve,e.g. a canadian head of the bank of england. this brexit is a dogs dinner & i think mrs may has done her best,which says it all.

  4. I’ve noticed that WTF has cut back on the cleaning as well. The fleet has been getting dirtier and dirtier and the Pacer I travelled on today was filthy both inside and outside.

  5. Frank Evans says:

    They seem to be replacing all the window surrounds that had been vandalised over the years. Looks good but maybe not at the start of you franchise and during the autumn/winter.
    Poor management and lack of planning. Labour all over.

  6. George says:

    Autumn preparation by various parties starts well in advance of autumn.The new operator is well aware of this and excuses by TFW, Skates etc are easy to spin out now Arriva has no voice. If there were problems in advance everyone knows as this happens every year. What Nigel Bull here fails to state is the obsolescence of the kit required to sort the wheels. Investment that has been lacking due to Welsh Gov and lack of proper franchise agreement / contract mean that in reality Arriva didn’t do a lot wrong. As stated its the same people give or take a few more directors at the moment who deal with this. As I always state come back in 2020 earliest. Car it is then.

  7. Chris Franks says:

    Add to the mix today’s 3.3% train fares imposed by the UK Government. Then there is the critical report by Auditors regarding the Network Rail which owns the lines and main stations on behalf of the UK Government. I am surprised that some comments imply that the Welsh Government negotiated the Arriva Contract. It was the Dept of Transport in London that was responsible..

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