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Media caption“Packed” – it’s not what passengers want to hear

There is “no immediate answer” to overcrowding on trains in Wales, an industry expert has warned.

Transport for Wales (TfW) took over running the Wales and Border rail franchise in October from Arriva Trains Wales.

But Prof Stuart Cole said the network was still feeling the pinch due to a historic lack of investment – and improvements would take time.

TfW said it was “confident” services will improve in the long term.

Prof Cole, who is professor of transport at the University of South Wales, said TfW should consider withholding its branding from its service until improvements have been carried out.

“Many of the issues involved are legacy issues – not necessarily the fault of the Arriva Trains, because they had a constraint of a no-growth franchise,” he said.

“It was a service always designed to work downwards so it would eventually close. That didn’t happen. The Welsh public decided they wanted to travel by train.”

TfW has committed to investing £738m on valleys lines and a further £800m ensuring 95% of journeys will be on new trains from 2023.

Prof Cole said he believed TfW was maturing into a successful organisation, similar to Transport for London, and had “every chance of making a good job” of improving the Welsh rail network.

But he added: “There’s no getting away from it – the peak trains are overcrowded.

“At stations like Radyr and Llandaf heading into Cardiff people are left behind.

“We’re not going to get any immediate answer to this.”

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KeolisAmey

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TfW operator KeolisAmey wants to see new rolling stock running on Welsh tracks

Railfuture, which campaigns for better rail services, said TfW was “attempting to offer a service but with the rolling stock that they have available it’s very difficult for them to offer a service at the moment that is 100% reliable”.

Some of the more recent problems have been down to trains having to be taken out of use for work to be carried out on them.

Six trains are currently off the tracks to be adapted to ensure they meet accessibility requirements.

Work is also being done to prepare trains for the autumn and other scheduled and unscheduled maintenance is taking place.

Colin Lea, customer experience director at TfW, said: “We recognise that some services have been more crowded than usual in recent days and we would like to apologise to customers for the difficult conditions.

“This is down to a combination of carrying out essential accessibility upgrade work and the fitting of new technology which we are confident will improve reliability in the long term.

“A number of our trains have also suffered damage whilst in service and our engineers are working hard to repair these.”



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