Wales

Welsh trains: 'Lessons learned' after 2018 train cancellations

Stranded train in Storm Callum
Image caption Storm Callum caused disruption across Wales' railway network

Lessons have been learned from last autumn when bad weather severely hit train travel, rail bosses have said.

Storm Callum, which saw flooding and other issues such as leaves on the track, led to mass cancellations.

At one point, a third of Transport for Wales (TfW)'s fleet of 127 trains were out of service.

Following a public backlash and an assembly plea, TfW and Network Rail said "record resources" have gone into ensuring things run smoother this year.

"Lessons are constantly being learned within the rail industry and none so much more than the lessons learned from last autumn on the Wales and Borders route," said Network Rail's Bill Kelly.

"We have invested record resources into this autumn's preparation work, across a number of areas, and we will prepare to work around the clock if needed to keep the network on the move."

TfW took over the running of trains services in Wales in October last year and it could not have had a more difficult start.

The day before, Storm Callum brought what was described as Wales' worst flooding for 30 years, leading to landslides and widespread train cancellations.

TfW's predecessor Arriva Trains Wales signed off by saying "customers are advised not to travel as journey completion cannot be guaranteed".

Image caption Transport For Wales took over the running of the Wales and Border franchise from Arriva

After years of complaints of overcrowding and late running services, commuters celebrated the end of the company's 15 years in charge.

But a large amount of services continued to be cancelled at the start of TfW's tenure as storm-damaged trains had to be repaired.

TfW put the blame at the door of Arriva Trains Wales, accusing it of poor maintenance and years of underinvestment - accusations its predecessor strongly rejected.

The Welsh Government, which took over the management of the Wales and Borders franchise last year, also blamed UK ministers for under-investment in the network.

'Encouraged'

An assembly committee urged organisations to stop blaming each other and put passengers first.

TfW and Network Rail - which looks after the tracks - have now been working together ahead of this autumn.

Many trains have been fitted with wheel slide protection, meaning they are more resilient to conditions, including leaves on the rails.

Network Rail staff have also been clearing vegetation from the tracks and will be working more to keep them in good condition, with frontline response teams available to deal with issues.

Transport minister Ken Skates said he was "encouraged" by the collaborative work of TfW and Network Rail.

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