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    17 August, 2006

    Assembly Diary

    For the best part of this year, Chris Bryant MP and I have been campaigning about train services in the Rhondda. Chris drew up a dossier of complaints received from passengers, and I published a report of the meeting I had with Arriva earlier in the year, with my questions and their answers. I travelled from Treherbert to Cardiff with Arriva’s then Managing Director for Wales, Graeme Bunker, on an early morning commuter service in the year.

    During the course of 2006, Mr Bunker left Arriva. I met the new Managing Director, Bob Holland, recently, and pressed the same points on him. Passengers are fed up of being put off trains at Porth. They are fed up of over-crowding. They are fed up of delays and cancellations.

    Arriva can point to some improvements in regularity over the course of the year: but unfortunately incidents like last week’s show that there is still significant room for improvement.

    The Welsh Assembly Government is investing money in the Valleys Line service to enable the Treherbert Line to take six-coach trains by 2008. A feasibility study is being undertaken this year with the further investment to follow through after. Longer trains will make a difference to the conditions in which passengers travel.

    The Assembly Government has also invested in additional British Transport Police. Unfortunately we have a high rate of vandalism and mindless violence at some stations and on some train services. It is also funding the Porth bus-rail interchange improvements.

    I was a member of the Committee set up by the Assembly to look at Rail Infrastructure and Passenger Services. Amongst other developments, this Committee recommended more frequent – and additional later –services between Treherbert and Cardiff. As the current Chair of the Assembly’s South Wales Central Regional Committee, I held a hearing on commuter services in our region recently as well.

    The Assembly became responsible for train services in Wales from this April. It is still too early, frankly, to assess that. We invest £140 million in the Welsh rail franchise, and it is an issue I will be keeping an eye on over the coming months.

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