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Welsh Affairs Committee to examine Transport for Wales’ performance and South Wales Metro costs

THE WELSH AFFAIRS COMMITTEE in Westminster has announced that it will be holding a special evidence session on Wednesday, July 19, with Transport for Wales Chief Executive Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde. The committee members will focus on assessing the performance of Transport for Wales (TfW) services as well as the increasing costs associated with the South Wales Metro project.

Initially, £738 million in funding was allocated for the Metro project when it was confirmed in 2018. However, more recent estimates suggest that the costs have risen to approximately £1 billion. The committee intends to delve into the factors contributing to this cost escalation.

Another significant concern to be addressed during the evidence session is the reliability of train services provided by TfW. In recent months, serious concerns have been raised regarding the frequency of train cancellations. The data from 2021-2022 reveals that 4% of TfW rail services were cancelled, a notable increase from the 2.2% cancellation rate observed between 2017 and 2020. This rise in cancellations has occurred despite a decrease in the overall number of trains in operation.

In May, the independent transport watchdog, Transport Focus, urged TfW to take immediate action to enhance the reliability of rail services for passengers. They wrote a letter to the CEO, calling for improvements and requesting the development of an action plan with clear timelines for restoring service performance and reliability. Transport Focus’s intervention came after a survey ranked TfW joint last with TransPennine Express in terms of overall passenger satisfaction. TfW also ranked poorly in punctuality, reliability, crowding, and information provided during journeys.

Additionally, figures from the Office of Rail and Road indicate that TfW experienced a significantly higher number of service cancellations compared to other major operators, with 12% of services cancelled in March alone. A Transport Focus survey found that punctuality and reliability satisfaction stood at only 69%.

Furthermore, concerns have been raised regarding the maintenance of TfW’s fleet, particularly due to three fires reported between February and March 2023.

MPs participating in the evidence session will also address questions regarding the South Wales mainline and bus services throughout Wales.

The Welsh Affairs Committee aims to thoroughly examine the issues plaguing TfW services and the South Wales Metro project to ensure the provision of efficient and reliable transport for the people of Wales.