PASSENGERS TO GET BETTER WEEKEND AND BANK HOLIDAY RAIL SERVICE IN WALES: Engineers working overnight to deliver £150m improvement to South Wales

Wednesday 2 Dec 2009


Region & Route:
| Wales & Western: Wales & Borders
| Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western

Network Rail and the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), with support from Passenger Focus, today announced an initiative to further reduce the need for replacement buses at weekends and bank holidays.

The initiative will benefit passengers in Wales travelling via the Great Western main line and West Coast main line (connecting services).  

The industry aims to keep passengers on trains rather than have their rail journey interrupted by a bus journey. Achieving this will be a significant step towards the industry’s vision of a seven-day railway.

20 key routes that carry 60% of all weekend passengers have been identified for special attention.  Among them are routes between London Paddington and Cardiff Central and London Euston and Glasgow Central (passengers connect to mid and north Wales via Birmingham New Street, Wolverhampton and Coventry).

Network Rail and train operators aim to offer a rail journey in almost all circumstances between key stations on these routes.  The only exception is when the demands of rail improvement work make achieving this aim impractical.

Passengers are already benefiting from better services, while this commitment is introduced progressively over the next two years.  

During this festive period, nearly all the routes in Wales remain unaffected by improvement work with rail services operating business as usual, connecting major towns and cities in the region.

Iain Coucher, Network Rail chief executive, said: "Today's punctual, reliable and safe railway has seen passengers flocking back. Their expectations for a decent service at weekends and at bank holidays have grown and we must respond. Keeping passengers on trains and off buses is our aim. We're working towards that and today's commitment sets us firmly on that path."

Michael Roberts, ATOC chief executive, said: “Train operators are delivering an ever better and more reliable service to their customers. With record levels of punctuality, we need to look at further ways of improving services, to attract more passengers to rail.  One way to achieve this is to ensure that, as far as possible, rail journeys at weekends and bank holidays are not interrupted by the need for a bus journey.”

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said: “We are pleased that Network Rail and the train operators have signed up to our pledge, making a clear commitment to keep passengers on trains wherever possible rather than use buses, and to ensure certain towns and cities are connected by train at almost all times. We have been asked by the government to monitor this."

Notes to Editor


The Regulatory Target

Network Rail has been set a regulated target by the ORR of reducing the disruption experienced by passengers because of planned engineering work by at least 37% by April 2014 and is well on course to achieving this target

Seven-day Railway

Several years ago the idea was conceived to significantly reduce the amount of time taken to do big pieces of vital rail improvement work thus enabling a better service to be offered to passengers at weekends and bank holidays.  New engineering methods have had to be created, new machinery and technology introduced to make this vision a reality. Work is ongoing but good progress is being made.

For example, the replacement of a set of points has traditionally taken 54 hours.  We have already halved the time taken to less than 27 hrs but our target is to reduce this even further


These commitments will now become progressively embedded in the railway's forward work and improvement schedule over the next 2 years.

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