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Neston Town Council Welcomes Better Transport Services to Come....Eventually

Published: 11th October 2018 15:10

Having held the franchise for rail travel in Wales and the Welsh Borders since 2003, Arriva Trains Wales will be handing over control on 14th October 2018 to French-Spanish firm KeolisAmey, which will trade under the banner of Transport for Wales Rail Services (TfW).

The new look trains in the colours that will be seen in Neston. (Picture by: Phil Lloyd)The new look trains in the colours that will be seen in Neston. (Picture by: Phil Lloyd)

While changes will not be immediate, passengers will see the red and white colours of the new company and can look forward to some welcome changes in the next few years according to the Chair of the Town's Transport Working Group Dr Phil Lloyd, who attended a transport briefing in Llandudno on 9 October.

The main improvement is delivering the North East Wales Metro by increasing frequency on the Wrexham-Bidston line to two trains per hour from December 2021, with fully refurbished metro trains.

Dr Lloyd highlighted in a briefing note to Neston Town's councillors that other improvements will eventually include:

  • Free end-to-end internet access available on 85% of journeys by 2024;
  • Free travel for under 5s extended to under 11s. Half-price fares extended to 16 - 18 year-olds. Under 16s go free off peak;
  • Seven new Community Rail Partnerships, and more than £1.25m per year invested in community activity. Disused station spaces will be transformed to meet local needs;
  • Smart ticketing rolled out across Wales and the Borders so that customers will be able to use mobile tickets to ensure they always pay the lowest fare;
  • More than 700 new customer information screens installed across the network and in other locations including colleges, hospitals and workplaces.

These changes, when implemented, will go some way towards attaining the objectives of Neston's Transport and Traffic Charter that was unanimously agreed at the Town Council meeting on 9 October - with the addition of an item that relates to improved cycling facilities.

Other key elements of the charter, that describes the long term objectives for transport in the town, include improvements to the A540, direct rail access to Liverpool, a bus service to Chester 7 days a week, affordable fares for young people and a review of traffic flows and safety in the town centre. The Charter also argues for a full review of all traffic and transport issues in Neston, the importance of which was underlined by the recent sudden loss of the 22 service on 5 October.

The Town Council would like to acknowledge the actions of Cheshire West and Chester Council in identifying an alternative provider (Stagecoach) for the 22 service from Monday 8th October.

Councillor Dominic Roberts, Chair of the Neston Town Council Places committee, said: "The proposed improvements to the rail services in the town are most welcome - and a just reward for the campaign instigated by the Town Council in September 2014, and for those who supported it, for a half-hourly rail service.

"It shows the value of being determined and ambitious in our aspirations. We look forward to working closely with TfW on its comprehensive plans for improved rail services in our town."

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At 16:44 on 11th October 2018, 8H commented:
The improvements to rail services are welcome. Frankly it is a bit rich however for Neston Town Council to claim the credit. The timetable for the route and the trains allocated to it were set by the Welsh government and its preferred operator over a long period of negotiation.

Account will also have been taken of the representations by the English local authorities such as Cheshire West and Wirral. It is also a help that those authorities have cooperated for some years to this end with those in North Wales. Cheshire West Council leader Sam Dixon has a senior role in several transport bodies involved in such works. Justin Madders MP has also been conspicuous in Parliament asking questions about our rail route.

It should not be forgotten either that amongst the North Wales local authorities Flintshire have for many years paid the train operator for the weekday evening and Sunday services on our line without which the timetable would have been an even bigger disappointment than it is.

Credit is also due to the Wrexham Bidston rail users group who have been stating the obvious solutions for many years without the success and credit they now too deserve.

To summarise we are all pleased with the improvements that are coming, but very many individuals and organisations have done their bit.

Think Neston Town Council May be overstating the extent of their influence a bit !
Susan C
At 19:14 on 11th October 2018, Susan C commented:
I'm still waiting for someone on the Town Council to explain how the Chester bus could possibly manage a seven-days a week including evening service without massive subsidies or vast fare increases. Are these complications irrelevant when it comes to the Transport and Traffic Charter unanimously agreed last week. Is any old pie-in-the sky dream ok for the Charter?

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