A new research conducted by the independent passenger watchdog Transport Focus has found that rail passengers travelling on Wales and Borders services have called for an overhaul of overcrowded train services when the new contract for the next operator is awarded.
The research was conducted by surveying passengers travelling on services provided by the current rail operator Arriva Trains Wales.
The survey found that passengers considered the top priorities for the next operator to be the inclusion of more seats to prevent overcrowding, along with the introduction of new trains and increased service reliability.
Respondents further noted that the current facilities and stations need upgrading. They also rated the local staff highly and found them to be generally friendly, helpful and approachable.
Transport Focus' research revealed that passengers want to see Transport for Wales, the Welsh Government, Network Rail and the as-yet-unnamed new operator of the Wales and Borders rail service to devise a distinct plan to resolve the highlighted issues.
Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: “Persistent delays to services on parts of the current Arriva Trains Wales network have diminished the expectations of passengers.
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“It’s important that the next operator and Network Rail get the basics right to rebuild trust with passengers.
“The competition for the next Wales and Borders operator provides a great opportunity to get a good deal for passengers.
“Transport for Wales, Welsh Government and the next Wales and Borders operator need to listen to passengers and take action to improve future services.”
The current operator Arriva Trains Wales franchise was contracted on a ‘zero growth’ basis, which lacked the investment necessary to tackle the increase in the number of passengers.
Transport Focus also noted that it will now work with the respective authorities to ensure that future services on the rail network fulfil passengers’ needs, in addition to help the prospective bidders place ambitious proposals.