The good citizens of Cheshire and North Shropshire are getting worked up about the fact that their stations in England will be branded ‘Transport for Wales’ and not ‘Transport for Wales & Borders’ as indicated in the Agency Agreement between the Department for Transport and the Welsh Government.
Is this just a storm in a teacup and does it really matter what the trains and stations are branded as long as the train service is operated efficiently and the railways across the Border into England are given a fair share of investment and development which is desperately needed?
Or is there an underlying suspicion that it is only natural the Welsh Government and its agent Transport for Wales will look after Welsh railways and of course its groundbreaking S E Wales Metro system, first in terms of investment. As our President, Professor John Whitelegg says ‘We live in very confused times but I think there is one thing that is clear/simple/unarguable and that is the case for the highest quality possible on every bit of the Cardiff-Manchester line and zero tolerance for any hint of second best and neglect for Shropshire and Herefordshire’.
The Marches Line is a peculiar animal as it is not strictly a cross-border service. With over 80% of its mileage in England, it can be termed an English railway, which distinguishes it from the Cambrian to Birmingham and the North Wales to Manchester routes. Most of the revenue on the Marches line comes from local and long-distance traffic generated in England, e.g. student traffic, commuting into Cardiff at one end and Manchester at the other.
We have yet to see what Transport for Wales has in store for service and rolling stock improvements together with station developments on the Marches Line. But one thing is clear, we need to keep a close eye on the situation and let it be known to the powers that be, i.e. the Welsh Government, Transport for Wales, The Department for Transport and our MPs know that the Marches Line should receive equal treatment to the rest of Wales, Transport for Wales branded or no.
So if you have any views please let Rail & Bus for Herefordshire know: email Railfh@aol.com or post a comment on the website.