One of the things people in the Rhymney Valley regularly complain about is the local train service. And people are right to complain.
The trains to and from the Rhymney Valley to Cardiff are old, often dirty, frequently overcrowded and too often late. People, understandably, also complain that the trains don’t stop at all the stations (especially Energlyn) and many of the trains finish half way up the Valley very late at night.
Hefin David, our Assembly Member, has successfully argued for more early morning carriages to be provided and I am keen to support his efforts to improve the service. Recently, I had a meeting with senior staff in Arriva Trains. I put to them the complaints which local people have made to me, many of which I have experienced myself.
The meeting was constructive and Arriva’s representatives accepted that many are dissatisfied with the current service.
I am pleased to say that I am hopeful there will be a real improvement in the service from October. This is because the contract for running the Valleys lines has gone to a new company – KeolisAmey. All of the staff from Arriva will work for the new company but, significantly, there will be fresh investment in both the trains and the track. It will take time for many of the improvements to materialise, but improvements there will be and Hefin David and I will be pressing for these changes to be introduced as soon as possible.
In the longer term, we will see the electrification of most of the Rhymney Valley line and the creation of the Metro integrated transport system.
I have confidence that this will bring about a real step change and I warmly welcome the fact that the issuing of rail franchises is now in the hands of the Welsh Government. Also, all the indications are that KeolisAmey will deliver the same good quality of rail service in the Rhymney Valley that it does in Manchester.