THE new operator of the rail network in Wales has taken over from Arriva Trains Wales this week.

KeolisAmey, a French-Spanish joint venture which will take over operations from Arriva Trains Wales from October, has committed to spend £800m on new trains in Wales, along with a number of what have been described as ‘flagship’ schemes.

Documents seen by the Beacon revealed plans to provide facilities for tourists and a coach/ bus interchange at Chepstow station.

The operator, which will be overseen by Transport for Wales (TfW), has committed to invest in Cardiff Central station from April 2025, Abergavenny Station from April 2023, Chepstow from April 2025, while pledging train service improvements including creating a one-train-per-hour service between Cardiff and Cheltenham from December 2022.

From 2023, an £800m investment will ensure that 95 per cent of journeys are on new trains. More than half the trains will be assembled in Wales. On Sundays, an extra 294 services will run across Wales by December 2019.

£194m will be invested in station improvements, at least five new stations will be built across Wales, a £15m fund will make stations more accessible, and at least 1,500 new car parking spaces will be created. More than 200 new ticket machines will be built, and TfW says tickets will be sold through local convenience stores to improve access.

Speaking at an earlier event in North Wales, Transport Secretary Ken Skates outlined some of the many improvements passengers can expect to see in the next few weeks, months and years.

“With investment totalling almost £5bn over the next decade and a half, our network will be transformed,” he added. “We have committed £800m to deliver new trains across the network, which by 2023 will see 95 per cent 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.

“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.”