At last month’s meeting we hosted a discussion with Transport for Wales about their approach to cycling.
 
TfW recently took over most of Wales’ railways from Arriva Trains Wales and we are hoping that they will have a more positive approach to combining bikes and public transport.
We’re really pleased that Hugh Evans, their Stakeholder Manager, agreed to come along to talk with us and answer any questions we have on how they’re going to improve things for cyclists.

Opening Remarks

Hugh explained that Keolis and Amey was awarded the Wales and Borders franchise in May 2018 to operate and maintain Transport for Wales (TfW) rail services for 15 years. Now simply referred to as Transport for Wales.

He went on to say that there is a plan to electrify most of the Valley lines, develop stations as Community Hubs with covered, secure cycle parking, new trains, a desire to ensure regular communication with stakeholders and to listen to issues raised.

Discussions from the meeting

Bikes on Trains – Capacities, (citing recent issues with GWR), bookable spaces, guard discretion (how discretion is exercised), can booking cycle spaces be managed better (ref booking bikes on longer journeys where changes of trains are necessary).

  • There are two types of train being designed:  Tram/trains (that will travel to the Bay with a new route taking line round to Central Stn so that Bay trains don’t always have to travel via Queen St), a new Inter-City style train on the route to Anglesey.
  • There will definitely be space for bikes with local trains having up to 8 spaces and 3-6 spaces on longer-distance trains.
  • A mobile app is being introduced to enable booking of bikes up to the 2hrs in advance of travel.  As there are more cycle spaces, there should be less potential for conflict with train guards.

Why is there lesser capacity on longer distance trains?

  • Except for Holyhead train which will be unique in being upgraded to Inter City Express standard with more cycle spaces. The Milford/Manchester trains will be 2-3 car trains but looking to make these 4-6 car trains at certain times of day – thereby providing more bicycle spaces per train.

Cycle provision at stations, including storage at main stations where there is non- possibilities of Belgium-style secure cycle storage?

  • Money is being allocated for covered, CCTV cycle parking at stations within the next 5 years.
  • A survey of all stations is currently being undertaken. TfW has allocated 15m for the Cardiff Central development.
  • Cost will play a part in what can be achieved.

What is the funding model for TfW?

  • £800m for the trains, which will be leased from rolling stock owners over the period of the contract (15 yrs).
  • Subsidy from Welsh Govt, with TfW investing £2m. For example a new station at Treforest is based on the expectation of an increased number of people using trains from that station.
  • Valley lines have £700m of ring-fenced EU funding for electrification and space to run 4 trains per hour from the Heads of the Valleys.

What is TfW’s relationship to the Active Travel Act, and what is the motivation for supporting it?

  • Commitment to the Active Travel Act principles was part of Keolis and Amey bid.
  • There will be an appointment of an Active Travel Manager in early 2019 and TfW are working with Councils to get close to their plans and access to cycle trails. Also looking at reward schemes around the Active Travel Act.
  • The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act will also play a part and TfW express a desire to support and find ways to make it work together. They want engagement to continue and to keep communications open and welcome thoughts and ideas from everyone.

Bus Replacement Services; taking bikes on Buses?

  • There is currently no answer to this, driver discretion comes into play again. TfW would take this on board and would be happy to listen to suggestions for solutions.
  • There are numerous bus companies in Wales, all independently managed but as these companies come up to tender for services there could be opportunities for change in light of the Wellbeing of Future Generations and Environment Act and Welsh Government could stipulate they want companies to find ways to transport bikes in their tender documents.
  • Some Suggestions made to TfW at the meeting:
    • Replacement buses going closer to people’s homes
    • Taxis
    • Bike Bus Racks
    • Bike Trailer to attach to replacement buses
    • Use Coaches not buses

Are there plans for a new line to city centre from the East of the City?

  • In the first five years, no. The focus will be on electrification of the valleys lines, then plans to extend the network e.g. from Aberdare, Cardiff Parkway to St Mellons, plus the Tram links to the Bay and Central Station. BUT, all this could take over 10 years to achieve although it is hoped the tram links will be within 5-6 years.

Commuting, peak demand, how will usage and crowd control be managed? Are there going to be times during the working day when TfW say “no bikes” on trains e.g. peak rush hour usage?

  • Plans such as opening up Queen Street Station with a new entry at the back, the more frequent trains, additional train carriages on some routes, will all contribute to making all journeys more comfortable for users.
  • There will be wider/better doors on trains, level loading to platforms which will make entry/exit more efficient.

Is there going to be integrated ticketing?

  • Yes, Smart Tickets by the end of 2019 and full integration by 2020.

Further discussion

During the discussions Hugh mentioned that they have a continuous feedback process and he is very willing to engage with stakeholders to find solutions to problems.

There is no reason why there shouldn’t be cycle reps on the various panels, including accessibility stakeholder panels, and Hugh undertook to put that suggestion forward. TfW Board is really balanced and will include a variety of representatives included those from user groups.

Transport for Wales are trying to get more people to use bikes and some senior people are very keen to encourage it. Active Travel is a core part of the ethos of TfW.

Hugh reiterated the desire to continue communications, listening to stakeholders and inclusion of the ideas and suggestions made at the meeting in his feedback to TfW colleagues.

 

Do you have any comments on these discussions? You can share them with us by using the form below.

 

Cardiff Cycle City is run by volunteers. If you have any time or skills that you think would benefit our cause then please get in touch!

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