In April 2006, the Welsh Government was given the responsibility for management of the Wales and Borders franchise, including day to day relationships, communication and performance management. They continue to closely monitor the punctuality of services on the line from Wrexham to Bidston, and have reported that there were a number of issues on that route in Autumn with leaf fall significantly affecting train adhesion, including a day when the service had to be suspended.
The Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates AM, has requested that Arriva Trains Wales and Network Rail hold periodic Operations and Performance Board meetings, working in partnership to drive up performance across the franchise and also develop plans for Autumn and major public events. I am advised that there have been 2 productive meetings held so far with some quick wins identified.
The WBRUA (Wrexham-Bidston Rail User Association) have been pleased to see that Network Rail have been active this winter cutting back a lot of lineside foliage (thanks to the above meetings) to reduce the risk of a similar occurrence going forward.
Passenger services on the route currently have very tight turnaround times resulting in limited scope for service recovery if things do go wrong.
The Welsh Government will give consideration to service enhancements offered by bidders as part of the procurement process for the next franchise, which is due to commence in October 2018.