Leanne Puts Welsh Government Under Pressure for Kicking Rolling Stock Strategy Into the Long Grass

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Rhondda AM Leanne Wood has criticised the Labour Government in Wales for failing to implement key recommendations from three years’ ago that would have improved rail travel.

The Penygraig-based Leader of Plaid Cymru held the Transport Cabinet Secretary to account during a recent plenary session.

In recent weeks Ms Wood has met with the managing director of Arriva Trains Wales Ian Bullock to discuss overcrowding on the service between Cardiff and Rhondda which has seen pupils travelling to Treorci Comprehensive turned away from carriages.

Ms Wood said the lack of rolling stock in Wales is a big factor in the overcrowding on valleys trains that she has seen first-hand during her commute to and from Cardiff Bay.

Ms Wood said it was “mystifying” why the Welsh Government have not acted on key recommendations made to them by the Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee from 2013.

The committee’s report, entitled ‘The Future of the Wales and Borders Rail Franchise’, said it was a ‘matter of urgency’ that a rolling stock strategy was developed and published.

The report added that it was necessary to ‘ensure pressing decisions on rolling stock compatibility for electrification and accessibility legislation are taken in good time to avoid the increased cost and disruption.’

During a plenary session, Ms Wood asked the Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for transport to “tell us where the rolling stock strategy is, please, and, if it doesn’t exist, can you tell us what your Government’s been doing for the last three years?”

In reply Ken Skates admitted there was a “very real and urgent need to address the shortfall in rolling stock” but could not point to the existence of a rolling stock strategy that the scrutiny committee urged them to produce.

Ms Wood said: “I asked a direct question of the Welsh Government about a key recommendation to improve the availability of rolling stock in Wales and they could not give me a simple answer.

“They have ignored the need to produce a rolling stock strategy. Not only is this mystifying but it is also to the detriment of rail passengers throughout Wales. It’s no fun for people having to make their way to and from work in a cramped and sweaty train carriage but that is exactly what thousands are having to do on a regular basis.

“The problem could be even worse if it were not for the excellence of the maintenance team with Arriva trains Wales who are managing to keep trains and carriages running when they are well past their sell-by date.

“The Welsh Government needs to get its act together if we are to get a transport system that long-suffering passengers deserve."

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