Valley Lines To Be Electrified
Plans are afoot to electrify the train network in south Wales. The current franchise holder Arriva Trains Wales receive a subsidy of around £180m a year from the Welsh Government. The next franchise operator will continue to receive a subsidy, but electric trains are more efficient to run and have great passenger capacity, so will generate more revenues for whichever private company wins the franchise.
As part of the deal with the UK Government the Welsh Government will have devolved responsibility for the franchise. It currently has a co-signatory deal with the Department for Transport. The next franchise will be from 2018.
However, Labour have mooted the possibility of not-for-profit or even stated owned train operators. There is potential for the Welsh Government to run the franchise through an arm’s length body as is the case with Cardiff Airport.
It could also delay that decision on the next franchise by offering an extension to Arriva Trains Wales when its current deal ends in 2018, but with a lower subsidy than currently provided, but the bottom line is that we can’t expect any electrified services until the early 2020s.
Electrified times will reduce times from stations in the Valleys to ensure that services such as Merthyr to Cardiff, currently over an hour, can be done in less than 50 minutes, whereas a non-stop service from Merthyr to Cardiff would only take around 30 minutes.
The Welsh Government could also ensure provision of more trains for rugby fans after international rugby games in Cardiff.