- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
First Minister Carwyn Jones has outlined his commitment to devolving the country’s rail franchise after 2018.
Speaking in the first Assembly session of the new term (16 September), in answer to a question put by Joyce Watson AM, Mr Jones said the future of extra train services in mid and west Wales depends on the outcome of on-going negotiations over the franchise.
The Labour Mid and West Wales AM welcomed Welsh Government funding for extra services in her region. She said:
“With the railways, more often than not, it is a case of if you build it, they will come.
“For the past three years, the additional services between Fishguard and Carmarthen…have benefited tourists and residents alike.
“As we go forward to a new franchise in 2018, First Minister, will the Government seek to put extra capacity in mid and west Wales on the negotiating table?”
The First Minister responded:
“I can say that the Fishguard and Goodwick station and the services serving the station and beyond to the harbour will continue at least until the end of the current franchise in 2018.
“Additional services on the Heart of Wales and Cambrian lines will also begin in May next year on a three-year trial basis.
“Much of this depends on what happens with the franchise in terms of whether it is devolved or not. That is something that we would want to see, with, of course, the appropriate financial settlement.”
Last month transport minister, Edwina Hart, gave the go-ahead to continue with additional rail services between Fishguard and Carmarthen until 2018. The five extra daily return services were introduced on a trial basis in 2011.
The Welsh Government also confirmed it will fund extra services on the Cambrian and Heart of Wales rail lines.
From May 2015, four additional peak hourly trains will operate between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury, Mondays – Saturdays, with hourly services for peak morning and afternoon times. There will also be two new return Sunday services , and an improvement to evening services on the Cambrian Coast between Barmouth and Pwllheli.
The new services will run for a tree-year trial period, creating 20 new train crew and depot jobs.