Rail system a ‘bit of a nightmare’, says senior civil servant


A senior civil servant in Wales has described the rail system as a 'bit of a nightmare' and said bodies meant to serve the public sue each other, in effect, over performance.

Welsh Government deputy permanent secretary James Price, was speaking at an Assembly inquiry into the new Wales and Borders franchise, which the government is now procuring.


Most of the current trains do not meet accessibility standards for operation after 2019, and Mr Price was asked if rolling stock procurement was a nightmare.

He responded: 'All of rail, to be honest, would seem to be a bit of a nightmare in terms of the way it’s been set up. Everywhere you go, you’re constrained.'

He also said: 'The way that the rail industry has traditionally run has been, I think and I think many people believe, very inefficient, with different parts of the rail industry that are meant to be serving the public in effect suing each other for lost minutes, and rooms of people just billing each other and challenging each other.'

He said it was 'not good enough' that the UK Government had still not devolved franchise powers to Wales, although this should have happened by May 2016.

A DfT spokesperson said: 'We are committed to giving the Welsh Government the power to award the Wales and Borders rail franchise before it next comes up for renewal. We remain on course to do so.'

Transport Network understands that the Welsh Government is leading on the procurement of the next franchise. The two governments are collaborating to give effect to the formal transfer of powers, which involves detailed policy and practical considerations around cross-border services.

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