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  • Pat Racher

Welsh Government's response to Heart of Wales reserach

Y Grŵp Newid Hinsawdd a Materion Gwledig

Climate Change and Rural Affairs Group


Ein cyf/Our ref: TO/LW/00322/23


Dear Patricia,

Thank you for your email of 18 February to Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for

Climate Change, regarding Calon Cymru Network’s concerns about the Heart of

Wales Line train service. I have been asked to reply on his behalf.


Firstly, we wish to thank you and the Calon Cymru Network for undertaking research

with Heart of Wales Line stakeholders. We recognise your work plays an important

role in advocating for the residents and communities along the line.


Unfortunately, responsibility for funding rail infrastructure outside the Core Valley

Lines has not been devolved to the Welsh Government and remains the

responsibility of the UK Government. The Welsh Government has consistently called

for responsibility for rail infrastructure spending in Wales to be devolved to us with a

fair funding settlement. However, the UK Government has consistently rejected our

request and continuously failed to invest in Welsh rail infrastructure.


Full devolution of the rail network alongside a fair funding settlement will enable the

transformational development of the railway across Wales needed to deliver our

vision, set out in Llwybr Newydd: the Wales transport strategy 2021. This would

allow us to provide passengers with an accessible, integrated, and sustainable,

public transport system. The Deputy Minister for Climate Change provided an update

on our plans for improving rural transport in a recent Written Statement. In the

statement the Deputy Minister confirmed we would be submitting a proposal shortly

to the UK Government’s Union Connectivity Fund to develop plans to increase

capacity along the Cambrian and Heart of Wales rail lines, and in doing so increase

cross-border connectivity.


Concerning speculation the Heart of Wales line may be closing, I assure you this is

untrue. There are no plans to close the line. Since December 2022 there are five

scheduled services a day on the full length of the line, and two which run on part of

the line. Transport for Wales (TfW) plan improvements across the line including

bringing their active-travel Class 153 trains into service next year.


We are sorry to hear passengers believe TfW's response to delays and cancellations

is inadequate. When disruption to train services occurs, TfW aim to minimise any impact and keep customers informed with front-line staff, passenger information at

stations and across their social media channels, website and app.


TfW is responsible for providing adequate responses to disruption to keep their

passengers moving. TfW advise us they face challenges sourcing replacement

transport services, for some of the reasons you have laid out. TfW are identifying

additional replacement operators for the route, however existing commitments

among the finite number of local operators is presenting a challenge. TfW

acknowledge it can take time to source rail-replacement buses or taxis, especially in

light of the existing commitments of operators who already provide contracted

services for local authorities. In addition, the location of the Heart of Wales line

means sometimes means operators coming from the Swansea or Shrewsbury area

to provide onward travel. TfW agree this means rail-replacement bus services can be

delayed.


Concerning staffing, TfW is responsible for the safe and efficient staffing of their

services. Decisions on this are taken for legal reasons. The current maximum duty

length for staff of 9 hours 30 minutes whilst the return service time for the Heart of

Wales Line is typically 12 hours, necessitating a change of crew during the journey.

Thank you again for your important comments which have been noted by Welsh

Government officials.


Yours sincerely,

Busnes y Llywodraeth / Government Business

Y Grŵp Newid Hinsawdd a Materion Gwledig / Climate Change and Rural Affairs Group

Llywodraeth Cymru / Welsh Government

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