Many of Transport for Wales’ Class 175s have been taken out of service across the Wales and Borders network due to persistent fires that plagued the trains earlier this month. These fires were caused by a failure to carry out regular cleaning and maintenance, say Welsh Conservatives.
Despite repairs being scheduled to take place by last Friday, the trains are yet to re-enter service – impacting passengers across Wales.
Some services hit are not regularly serviced by Class 175s. Trains belonging to other routes are now servicing the routes covered by the 175’s. This decision is at the cost of the entire cancellation of rail services on some North Wales branch lines, in order to continue services via the South Wales routes.
Commenting, Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport Minister, Natasha Ashgar MS said:
“Transport for Wales’ bus replacement of all services on the Conwy Valley route, as well as Wrexham’s Borderlands route is insulting to users of the lines in North Wales who depend on these services to make their regular commutes. The entire cancellation of rail services on some North Wales branch lines, in order to continue services via the South Wales routes is unacceptable.
‘’Communities are now without a rail service due to the Labour -owned Transport for Wales’ negligence.’’
“Trains designed for short distances, such as North Wales Branch lines, are now running ultra-long-distance services such as Cardiff to Holyhead and Manchester to Tenby - for which they are entirely unsuitable.
‘‘The repair of the Class 175s must become TfW’s upmost priority. There can be no more delays to repairs and rail services on rural lines in North Wales must be urgently restored. Labour-run TfW’s neglect of routine cleaning and repairs caused the Class 175s withdrawal, such carelessness must never happen again and lessons must be learnt so commuters in Wales are not disadvantaged at the hands of their own Government.”
Transport for Wales (TfW) has advised rail travellers to check for the latest information before travelling this week as some services will be affected by train shortages and industrial action. The company’s announcement is printed in full below.
Class 175 update
As announced earlier this month, TfW has temporarily withdrawn a number of its Class 175 trains to allow additional maintenance checks to be carried out following some recent mechanical issues.
While it was hoped these units would be back in service by Friday, March 10, safety checks are still on-going and as a result, disruption is likely to continue for the remainder of this week.
Disruption is likely across the Wales and Borders network, not just on those routes served by the Class 175s, as trains are moved to provide capacity where demand is highest. Customers are asked to check before they travel. This includes first and last trains and any ferry connections to ensure sufficient time is allowed.
Routes affected by the changes are:
- Newport - Crosskeys – service cancelled (no rail replacement).
- Chester-Liverpool – service cancelled (Merseyrail ticket acceptance).
- Conwy Valley Line – service cancelled (rail replacement).
- Wrexham-Bidston Line – service cancelled with rail replacement buses.
- West Wales lines – some services to Pembroke Dock cancelled with rail replacement buses.
- All Milford Haven and Fishguard services cancelled west of Carmarthen - majority of services will have rail replacement buses.
- Cambrian Coast – early morning Barmouth service cancelled, with rail replacement buses.
- Core Valley Lines – reduced service on some routes.
Jan Chaudhry-Van der Velde, Chief Operations Officer at TfW, said: “The safety of our customers and colleagues remains our priority and it is important that all the necessary checks and repairs have been completed on each of our Class 175 trains before being allowed back into service.
“The Class 175s are maintained on our behalf by CAF at their depot in Chester, and while we have this shortage of rolling stock, we are moving trains around the network to try and minimise the impact on the busiest routes.
“We’re very sorry for any disruption to customers’ journeys while we work to carry out the repairs as quickly as possible.”
Industrial action – March 16 and 18
The National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT) has announced planned strike action at Network Rail has been suspended. However, strike action at 14 train operating companies (not including TfW) will still go ahead as planned on March 16 and 18. There will be some changes to TfW’s timetable as a result.
Some services are also likely to be extremely busy as a result of the severely-reduced timetable put in place by other operators.
Jan Chaudhry-Van der Velde, Chief Operations Officer at TfW, added: “Strike action at 14 Train Operating Companies will still go ahead as planned. This will include station staff who are responsible for key operational roles such as train dispatch. As a result, we’re not able to provide some services at certain times to stations managed by the affected operators.”
- Services between Chester and Liverpool will not run.
- Services will not call at Wilmslow.
- Services calling at Stockport will be set down only towards Manchester and pick up only towards Crewe.
- Before 09:15 and after 21:15 - services between South Wales and Cheltenham will terminate at Lydney
- Before 07:00 and after 19:00 - services between North Wales and Manchester will terminate at Chester.
- Services on the Marches Line will terminate at Shrewsbury.
- Services to Birmingham International will terminate at Birmingham New Street.
Passengers travelling to Cheltenham Festival are advised to seek alternative travel arrangements as services to Cheltenham between 0915 and 2115 will be limited and very busy. Gloucester station will be closed all day.