The Rhondda AM has taken the Labour Government to task for failing to prepare for the loss of the oldest rolling stock on the railway lines.
Leanne raised the issue following the news that train services could be drastically cut in the New Year because the 1980s Pacer trains running throughout the south of Wales will be in breach of legislation on accessible toilets.
The Welsh Government needs permission from the Department of Transport in Whitehall for an extension to run the trains from January 1st 2020 but that permission has not be forthcoming as yet. There are doubts that the permission will be granted in time for the New Year due to the disruption caused by the General Election.
The Welsh Government were told to prepare for the replacement of older rolling stock as early as 2013 by an Assembly Committee due to the 2020 deadline for compliance on accessible toilets. It appears that that advice, and the recommendation to develop a rolling stock replacement strategy, was ignored.
During First Minister’s Questions, Leanne said: “After 31 December, we could lose the Pacer trains from the Valleys lines. Now, losing the Pacers would normally be a cause for celebration, because they're so old and so awful, but, because of the lack of planning from yourselves, we face an unprecedented reduction in rail services overnight.
“Earlier on, you blamed private companies, yet you were warned about this six years ago. And the report from 2013 called on the Welsh Government—not on private companies, but on yourselves—to develop and publish a rolling stock strategy as a matter of urgency.
“That recommendation was not acted upon and angry passengers, including myself, will want to know why. We cannot accept an even poorer service than we have now.
“My train was cancelled just this morning, and this is occurring more and more regularly. First Minister, what is your plan B if you can't use Pacers after 31 December?”
In reply, Mark Drakeford AM blamed the private companies for failing to deliver new rolling stock but neglected to answer the question about a Plan B if permission from the Department of Transport is not forthcoming.
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