The following is the text of a press release issued by the Rt. Hon. David Jones M.P. on 4 March 2016. The release includes an official transcript of part of a related speech given by Mr. Jones in the main chamber of the House of Commons on 3 March 2016.
MP CRITICISES ARRIVA RAIL SERVICES
Westminster, 4 March 2016
David Jones, MP for Clwyd West, yesterday (Thursday) strongly criticised Arriva Trains Wales services in North Wales during the St David’s Day debate in the House of Commons, saying that they have ‘appallingly low standards of comfort’.
During the debate on Welsh affairs, Mr Jones pointed out that not only is it much quicker for him to travel from North Wales to London by Virgin Trains than to Cardiff by Arriva, but that they offer a very poor quality of service overall.
Mr Jones also spoke of the importance of recognising the mutual economic dependence of North Wales and the North West of England, and reiterated the need to electrify the North Wales main railway line.
Arriva Trains Wales has recently faced criticism after a report by Which? said 32 per cent of commuters experiences delays on their last journey and cited Arriva as one of the worst for delays.
David Jones later commented:
“Efficient rail services are crucial to the economic development of North Wales. The Virgin service to London has improved significantly over recent years, but Arriva continue to provide slow, uncomfortable trains, without electric sockets, wifi or acceptable refreshment facilities, frequently making use of obsolete rolling stock.”
Extract from Hansard
3 March 2016: Column 1171
Mr Jones: I do have concerns about the franchise, but now that the hon. Lady has raised the subject, I am bound to say that the citizens of north Wales would not express much satisfaction with the franchise that has been put in place by the Welsh Assembly Government. Arriva Trains provide a very poor service. It is actually much quicker for me, as a north Wales MP, to travel to London by Virgin Trains than to Cardiff by Arriva. Certainly, issues of topography are partly responsible for that, but they do not explain the appallingly low standards of comfort that one experiences on Arriva. I would certainly hope, therefore, that all aspects of the franchise will be looked at, not least the adequacy of the service that is provided at the moment.
The north Wales coastal line needs to be upgraded. We must not miss out on the opportunity to tap into the new service that will be provided as a consequence of the advent of HS2. It looks very much as if a new hub will be provided at Crewe, and it is essential for the travelling public of north Wales that proper, electrified services connect the whole north Wales coast, from Holyhead, all the way to Crewe.
In that connection, valuable work is being done by the North Wales Economic Ambition Board, and the new all-party group can play a role in that. It is hoped that there will shortly be a meeting that will be attended by the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton South (James Wharton), who is the northern powerhouse Minister. I was very pleased to see the Minister at a meeting organised by the board in Llandudno a few months ago. It is essential that the Government do not take their eye off the ball, because electrification of the north Wales line is fundamentally important to the economy of north Wales and to its connectivity with the northern powerhouse.
Similarly, consideration should be given to the Borderlands railway line that runs between Wrexham and Bidston, connecting the two enterprise zones at Wirral Waters and Deeside. Electrification of that stretch of line, particularly between Bidston and Shotton, would provide a relatively inexpensive, but highly desirable, piece of infrastructure. It would put Deeside industrial estate within commuting distance of the centre of Liverpool, again improving connectivity.