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KeolisAmey unveils £1.9bn Wales and Borders upgrade plans

KeolisAmey has unveiled its plans for a £1.9bn investment in the Wales and Borders rail network and the South Wales Metro in partnership with Transport for Wales (TfW).

The announcement comes as the Welsh Government confirmed that KeolisAmey would be the next operator and development partner for the network, following the end of a 10 day standstill period in the procurement process.

Currently, the partnership between Keolis and Amey runs London’s Docklands Light Railway and maintains and operates Greater Manchester’s Metrolink.

From 14 October 2018, £194m will be spent on station improvements, with the modernisation of the 247 existing stations on the network, as well as the construction of five new stations.

Trains across Wales will be replaced, at a cost of £800m, with 95% of all train journeys being made on new trains from 2023, half of which will be assembled in Wales.

The operator also intends to run an extra 285 services every weekday from 2023, with improvements planned for the Ebbw Vale line, North Wales Metro, Cambrian and Heart of Wales lines, as well as increasing Sunday services by 61%.

Six hundred new jobs will be created in order to deliver the contract, including 30 new apprenticeships each year, and the company has said that it will invest in new technology to reduce disruption and enhance performance, deliver a new website and app in the first year, and improve on-board phone connectivity.

The 15 year contract will run from 4 June 2018 until 14 October 2033, with rail services transferring on 14 October 2018, and includes delivering the next phase of the South Wales Metro project, which will see journey times reduced, train frequency increased and a return of on-street running to Cardiff.

The link from Penarth, Barry and Bridgend to destinations north of Cardiff Central will see the introduction of tri-mode trains, which can run on power from overhead electric cables, batteries and diesel engines.

Smart ticketing will be rolled out across Wales, and new, cheaper off-peak fares will be introduced, including reductions to fares in North Wales and the heads of the Valleys.

The announcement comes at the end of a long procurement process, led by TfW, during which KeolisAmey competed against MTR, after Abellio and Arriva Trains Wales pulled out.

Alistair Gordon, Keolis UK chief executive, said: ”For too long the railways in Wales have suffered from under investment and, while the changes we need to make will take time, we are creating a platform for future economic growth and prosperity that will benefit all of Wales now and for generations to come.

“In five years’ time, the railway will be unrecognisable from what it is today thanks to the vision of the Welsh Government. We can’t wait to get started.”

Andy Milner, chief executive of Amey, added: “Building on our successful partnership with Keolis, which already sees us deliver two high performing services – the Greater Manchester Metrolink and London’s Docklands Light Railway – we are excited to be taking on the Wales and Borders contract.”

He said that the contract provides a “great opportunity” for the two companies to use their joint capabilities to deliver a “first-rate service” for Wales, creating new jobs and apprenticeships, and improving passenger experience.

Top image: wcjohnston


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