Welsh Government has announced it will spend up to £65 million over the next 6 months to ensure train services continue to operate on the Wales and Borders network for key workers and others that rely on the train to travel.
An ‘Emergency Measures Agreement’ has been approved to help Transport for Wales rail services cope with the ongoing effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
It follows an initial short-term agreement worth £40 million which was confirmed in March, taking the total cost to a maximum of £105 million (subject to levels of passenger revenue).
The use of public transport is around 95% less than the same period last year, as people have followed advice to stay home and to stay local. Season ticket refunds and social distancing requirements will also have an effect on train companies’ revenue.
During coronavirus restrictions Transport for Wales has helped key workers travel to work, and ensured NHS workers can travel for free. Last week Welsh Government published guidance for operators and guidance for the public in using public transport safely.
Lee Waters, Deputy Transport Minister, said:
In order to save lives we have asked that people only travel when necessary. This has been vital to the health of our nation, and it is only right that we proceed cautiously before encouraging higher levels of passenger numbers on public transport.
We therefore need to take action to ensure we have an effective rail network in the long-term. Our funding will help our rail service cope with the inevitable revenue loss resulting from coronavirus.
In the long-term this will ensure key infrastructure projects such as Metro systems can be delivered. More immediately, it will also mean our rail network can continue enabling essential travel and helping key workers get to work, including free travel for NHS staff.
We will continue to work towards achieving the strongest possible rail network in the long-term, as part of our wider transport system.