Welsh Government pushes the case for light rail

Bidders for the next Wales and Borders franchise are being asked to consider alternatives to electrifying the existing Cardiff Valley routes.

BIDDERS for the next Wales and Borders franchise will be expected to look at plans for the Cardiff Metro project and evaluate whether light rail operations will provide a better value for money solution than the proposed electrification of the existing heavy rail network in the Cardiff Valleys.

Four companies have pre-qualified for the franchise that will start operation in October 2018: Abellio, Arriva, MTR Corporation, and the KeolisAmey consortium. Besides the usual requirement of providing a revenue forecast and delivery plans to improve service quality, the winning bidder will have to act as an Operator and Development Partner (ODP) providing funds to upgrade the rail network.

The decision on who wins has been devolved from the Department for Transport to the Welsh Government, which has been looking closely at the structure for constructing and financing the Tramlink scheme in South London, which opened in 2000 using mostly ex- British Rail infrastructure apart from the street running sections around Croydon.

Read more in December’s issue of RE

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