Welsh Railways will be improved through ambitious plans that call on a total investment of £5 billion. The aim is to help support and encourage an economic renewal according to comments from the Transport Minister for Wales.
Once the final trains run this coming Saturday, Arriva Trains Wales will take a step aside and will no longer be the national operator in Wales. Transport for Wales will take over the role as the lead manager, with KeolisAmey being the contractor that provides the required services as well as undertaking the employment of staff.
One of the more noticeable changes that will be seen first is the change to branding across the country as Transport for Wales Rail Services aims to clearly make a change to the service and herald the introduction of a new era. This change will also be supported by new trains that are being built or are on order. As part of this significant upgrade, a new South Wales Metro will also be introduced at the cost of £738 million.
Ken Skates, Transport Secretary has said the plans are much larger than that of a traditional transport project. The aim is for this to help encourage and kick-start a more widespread economic renewal. The main driver for this project is to help individuals, businesses and communities, all of which need to trust a transport system that is reliable in order for people to find jobs, grow businesses and encourage investment into their local areas.
The Metro project is not solely aimed at handling the transport problems currently experienced but to also offer opportunities in the future. Not just in a transport sense but also in a sense that the Metro Infrastructure will increase possibilities for people throughout South Wales.
These new changes will take a number of years to come to fruition, but with it will come new trains, 600 jobs, 30 new apprenticeships and smart ticketing. All of the Metro routes throughout South Wales will be operated electronically, with some battery hybrids being delivered from Vivarail which is working on converting old London Underground cars.
Finance secretary Mark Drakeford has made it clear that the plans are way beyond that of a traditional transport project. The Metro improve social mobility in new ways and enhance access, bringing people and communities together to help create opportunities for employment, health, education and leisure.