The start of this important contract marks the continued growth of Keolis in the UK transport market. The company is currently a joint venture operator of heavy and light rail services in the cities of London, Manchester and Nottingham. Keolis will also draw upon its experience and expertise from its other heavy rail networks in France, Germany, The Netherlands, and US to deliver a step change in rail services to the people of Wales.
This is an important moment for rail in Wales – indeed for devolution itself. Led by Transport for Wales with our partners KeolisAmey this will be the very first ‘made in Wales’ rail service, designed and delivered by the Welsh Government. The opportunity to re-design and re-purpose our railway network in Wales is a once in a generation opportunity and I am confident that by 2033 it can be the best passenger rail service in the UK. The chance to develop an integrated transport system that encourages economic growth and better supports our public services is supported across all political parties, and the opportunities to develop Metro systems here in South East Wales, in the North East and around Swansea Bay are drawing attention from across the globe.
With investment totalling almost £5bn of over the next decade and a half, our network will be transformed. We have committed £800m to deliver new trains across the network, which by 2023 will see 95% of rail journeys made on new trains.
A further £194m will be put to improving the passenger experiences at our stations across the Wales and Borders network. There is £738m earmarked to modernise the central metro lines, support the next phase of Metro and run more trains every hour. Transport for Wales rail services will offer 600 new jobs and 450 apprenticeships over the 15 year lifespan of the contract.
Passengers will enjoy the benefits of the introduction of smart ticketing across the network, and through the extension of free travel to under-11s with half-price fares for 16 to18 year olds, they will see economic improvements also. This is an exciting time for Wales, and we wish Transport for Wales every success in bringing about these transformational changes on our behalf.
Transport for Wales has innovative plans to revolutionise transport across Wales and we’re ambitious to create a rail service that puts customers first. Taking over the running of the Wales and Borders rail service is an important first step on an exciting journey of transformation that will also see the creation of the South Wales Metro.
Our customers, the people of Wales and border areas, deserve a rail service that matches Welsh Government’s vision. We know people have high expectations of the transformation that will happen in the coming years. We’re determined to win their trust and develop a rail service that exceeds their expectations.
We are indeed pleased and excited to start working on the Wales and Borders network. We take this opportunity to thank Transport for Wales for putting their trust in our joint venture, to deliver their ambitious programme of transformation for Wales. And we now look forward to working with them over the next 15 years to ensure the smooth delivery of their bold vision.