Wales politics

Welsh rail franchise 'to keep cross-border services'

Arriva Trains Wales
Image caption The Wales and Borders franchise is currently operated by Arriva Trains Wales

Plans to devolve the Wales and Borders rail franchise will include existing cross-border services, the Welsh Government has said.

The UK government said in 2015 some services that primarily serve England could be given to other firms.

But the Welsh Government has now said it has reached an understanding the current franchise map will remain intact.

Four companies are bidding to run the network.

The UK government agreed in 2014 to devolve the Wales and Borders franchise.

But the 2015 St David's Day command paper - a document which paved the way for the Wales Bill currently passing through parliament - said it was "likely" services primarily for English markets would be put in franchises under the authority of the UK transport secretary.

This prompted concerns services such as Aberystwyth to Birmingham and Milford Haven to Manchester would be split at the border, with passengers potentially having to change trains.

'Sense has surfaced'

The Welsh Government said it had "reached an understanding" with the UK Department for Transport that the current Wales and Borders franchise map "will remain intact".

Its spokesman added there were also opportunities for operating new routes to Bristol and Liverpool "if train paths can be secured".

John Rogers, a committee member of railway campaigning group Rail Future, described the idea of splitting up cross-border services as "completely stupid".

"Common sense has surfaced at last," he said.

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