Regional Transport Consortium Sewta has responded to the Government’s Greater Western Franchise replacement consultation by calling for existing services to be retained with improved frequency and capacity, and the new franchisee to commit fully to electrification.
Sewta (the South East Wales Transport Alliance) who co-ordinate transport strategy, plans and programmes for the 10 local councils of South East Wales makes the submission in a 25 page document – Sewta’s Response: Department for Transport - Great Western Franchise Replacement Consultation. The new franchise will start operating in April 2013.
Sewta proposes the retention of these existing services:
• Half-hourly all-day Cardiff -London Paddington services calling at minimum of Newport, Bristol Parkway and Reading.
• Hourly all-day Swansea -London Paddington services calling at Bridgend, Cardiff Central, Newport, and Bristol Parkway.
• An additional peak hourly service from Swansea to London calling at Bridgend, Cardiff Central, Newport and Bristol Parkway.
• Half-hourly or better train service from South Wales to Bristol Temple Meads and Bath calling at Cardiff Central; Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Filton Abbey Wood.
If the final franchise specification includes a Cardiff to Portsmouth service, Sewta suggest that all the services should stop at Severn Tunnel Junction, to ensure connections are maintained with services on the Chepstow Line and meet demand from Chepstow and Lydney to Bristol.
Sewta also says that the new franchise should provide an obligation for the operator to provide sufficient rail capacity on England to Cardiff services for all major events at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff International Arena and Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.
Sewta also wants an increase in rolling stock capacity as passenger demand on a large number of services between South Wales and England has exceeded all rail industry forecasts, causing overcrowding on some key routes such as South Wales to Bristol.
Sewta urges that the new franchise should provide for all known current demand as well as providing for the anticipated continuing growth in rail travel.
• a minimum 5 coaches on South Wales to Bristol peak services
• 8 coaches on hourly peak Swansea –Cardiff – London services
• Minimum of 8 coaches (or equivalent seats per train) on all weekend services between South Wales and London to provide for increased demand being made on those services at times on Saturdays and Sundays, which exceed those on weekdays
• the franchise be able to provide for additional capacity as it becomes necessary
There is full support for electrification of the Great Western Main Line from London to South Wales, and as part of this Sewta suggests a number of ongoing objectives:
• The franchise needs to commit to electrifying South Wales to Bristol/Bath services
• Subject to decisions on electrification, the franchise should also be designed to allow for the extension of electric train services from London and Bristol into the Valley Lines electrified network
• The franchise should future proofing of train services to meet future aspirations for new stations on the Great Western Main Line in Wales.
• The franchise should ensure that disruption during electrification is minimised.
• Post electrification a formal review and consultation on services will be needed, as electrification will increase demand for rail travel in the region
Sewta says it is essential to the reliable operation and growth of the franchise that rail infrastructure is fit for purpose with identified pinch points and areas affecting performance matched against a programme of enhancements.
The quality of on-board facilities is an increasing factor in passengers choosing rail travel, and Sewta proposes the provision of wireless broadband and electronic device charging points on long-distance inter-city and regional trains as well as catering facilities.
Sewta also highlights aspirational new services that would benefit both potential passengers and the Welsh economy if included in the new franchise:
• Abergavenny to London once a day in each direction, calling at, Pontypool and New Inn, Cwmbran and Severn Tunnel Junction – to arrive in London before 10am, and departure from London before 8 pm.
• Hourly services from Ebbw Vale to Bristol Parkway via – Newport – and Severn Tunnel Junction to provide new journey-to-work opportunities to development and employment sites planned for the area around Bristol Parkway
• The extension of South Wales to Bristol Temple Meads services, from beyond Cardiff to the Vale of Glamorgan Line, and from Valleys communities north of Cardiff to provide new direct journey-to –work, education or leisure opportunities in Bristol
• An hourly Worcester-Gloucester-Chepstow-Cardiff service
The Chair of the Sewta Rail Group, Mark Youngman, said:
“The new Greater Western Franchise is a once in a lifetime opportunity to enhance and develop mainline and regional rail services to benefit all the people of South Wales.
“Sewta’s rail experts have identified the needs and aspirations of the travelling public and spell them out clearly in this consultation response, which is not only comprehensive but also both visionary and practical.
“We hope the Department for Transport can embrace it and deliver it as we suggest. We shall be delighted to give them every assistance in their endeavours.”
Sewta is the alliance of local authorities charged with developing transport policy and delivering transport projects on behalf of the 10 local authorities in South East Wales and their partners, both in the transport industry and in organisations representing passengers’ interests.
Sewta’s membership includes the local authorities of Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Torfaen and the Vale of Glamorgan. Partners are the Confederation of Passenger Transport, Arriva Trains Wales, First Great Western, Network Rail, Bus Users UK, Passenger Focus and Sustrans. Sewta works closely with the Welsh Government.
For further information contact:
Peter Curtis Giraffe pr: Mobiles 0780 1790640 0758 5226025