“Put People Before Profits,” Leanne Urges Labour Government on Rail Franchise

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The Rhondda AM has called for a fares reduction for passengers on the Valleys Lines for having to use old trains for longer than promised.

Leanne Wood said the Labour Government in Wales should be joining with their party colleagues in the north of England who have called for cheaper fares because of passengers are travelling on Pacers – the same trains used between Cardiff and Treherbert.

The Welsh Government – who are responsible for Transport for Wales and the new rail franchise – recently dropped a bombshell that the 40-year-old Pacer trains would not be dropped this year as was originally promised.

Chronic rolling stock has meant the Welsh Government is having to seek permission from the UK Government for an extension on using the Pacers and even older locomotives built in the 1960s.

During plenary this week, Leanne said: “Travelling on these trains that are well past their use-by date does not make for a great travelling experience. I use these trains all the time, and I can testify to others' complaints about overcrowding, missing services and broken-down trains that are made on a regular basis by many, many people.

“Now, I note that your Labour Party colleagues - Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, Sheffield city regional mayor, Dan Jarvis, and Leeds City Council leader, Judith Blake - have all signed a letter calling on train operator, Northern, to reduce fares for passengers who, like us in Wales, are forced to travel on these Pacer trains.

“I think this is a great idea. Will you and your Cabinet colleague with the transport brief be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with your party colleagues in putting the interests of passengers before profit?

“Can we have a statement from the Transport Minister outlining by how much passengers can expect their fares to be reduced while we wait for the basic public transport service that we deserve?”

In reply, Trefnydd Rebecca Evans AM said: “The stock to which Leanne Wood refers will be phased out early in the new year. They're being kept on the lines at the moment to maintain capacity.

“And, of course, there are rolling stock across the whole of the UK; this isn't an issue which is particularly confined to Wales. And the First Minister also set out the future proposals in terms of the reduction of fares across Wales as well.”

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