Arriva has been blamed for the state of the current Welsh train fleet and the way in which rail services have been replaced by buses after trains became damaged as they dealt with the conditions during autumn. Despite this, talks have been taking place with Network Rail and things are looking like they are improving.
In 2003, Arriva took control of the Wales & Borders franchise and remained in place until October this year but there have been no plans in place for replacement rolling stock. This has resulted in almost all trains used on the Wales & Borders routes to be at least 30 years old.
Transport Secretary Ken Skates has said that the contract was dreadful and that they inherited a fleet of trains that we badly maintained and they were given sufficient access to them prior to inheriting them. Therefore, Transport Wales had the challenge of dealing with Storm Callum and taking over the franchise this Autumn.
The standards of the service delivered by Arriva were far too low and that was down to the fact that contract was put in place 15 years ago and was no longer fit for purpose, leaving Arriva with less work to do to meet their requirements. There were no mechanisms in place to push Arriva Trains Wales to increase their performance and standards, including maintenance. Even in the lead up to the transfer of the franchise, there was no incentive commercially for Arriva Trains Wales to invest in maintenance beyond what was expected of them by law.
Mr Skate has identified that the number of trains required each day in order to meet the requirements of a full timetable still fall below what is needed. While apologies have been made, it is clear to see that Transport for Wales has been working hard in order to bring more trains back into use in a short space of time.
Discussions have been held with Network Rail and that has seen 10% more trains have been brought back into service but this is still a difficult period, especially when you consider the lack of investment that has been made in the rail network throughout the last 15 years.