The Welsh Government has agreed to provide up to £40m in funding over the next few months to support railway services amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Announced by Minister for Economy & Transport Ken Skates, the funds are intended to maintain current reduced services and ensure the future of rail operations in ‘Wales and the Borders’.
The government is currently working with the Transport for Wales (TfW) and TfW Rail Services on the package, the details of which are expected to be announced in the following weeks.
Skates said: “Firstly, the coronavirus pandemic has already had a profound impact on the railway in Wales.
“Passenger numbers have plummeted as a result of our advice to socially distance or self-isolate and not travel unless journeys are essential. We, therefore, must act now to safeguard the future of services.”
The Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent government advice to the citizens to stay indoors have caused travel demand to decrease.
With the funding, the government seeks to ensure that a ‘viable public transport network’ will function when the pandemic ends.
In the UK, more than 25,000 people are infected by the disease while the death toll has crossed 1,700.
Besides rail, the Welsh Government has extended financial support to the bus services. The bus operators will receive £29m in funding, which will be delivered through grants administered by local authorities.
Last month, the UK Government also announced support for the railway operators by letting them to handover franchise operations to the Department of Transport during the pandemic.