Transport for Wales 2.0

Speech to Transport for Wales senior management at Llys Cadwyn, TfW HQ, in Pontypridd on 6th February 2024

Diolch am y croeso a y cyfle. James Price and I meet regularly, and sometimes it feels like we’re in charge. But it really is a privilege to be in the same room as the people who actually do run transport in Wales.

And it’s so nice to see people together. I’m still adjusting to meeting people in the flesh who I’m used to seeing online; I still can’t believe how short everyone is when I meet them! Apart from the ones I already knew were short, obviously (you know who you are).

The worst thing about those mass Teams calls is that I can’t see people’s reactions to what I’m saying – to confirm that they are drifting off.  So at least I’ll know for sure today that I am boring you – the people in the room at least. It won’t stop me, but it gets rid of the uncertainty.

I know we’ve priced-in that politicians' speeches will be insincere, but I really do mean what I say. And I really do mean it when I say that the work you are doing, and the spirit in which you are doing it, really is appreciated.

Again over Christmas the teams pulled out all the stops to deliver the planned upgrades on the CVL. Giving up precious family time to keep the Metro on track.

I know everyone’s doing a job, and this stuff happens right across the rail industry, but I do think there’s a difference here: a sense of pride, a sense of community, a sense of purpose over and above the day-job.

Because in TfW we have created something special. A body of people that care about Wales, and not the quarterly profits of a FTSE company, or the bottom line of a business registered in the Cayman Islands.

It really is a significant difference, and already one we’ve begun to take for granted. And we shouldn't.

I’m not sure if any of you saw that story about the leak of an Avanti West Coast presentation to their management team?

Just days after TfW teams were out in the rain over the new year, rail bosses at Avanti were laughing at how the company was able to lever cash out of the Government to pass on to staff and shareholders. The leaked slides included one which said “Roll-up, roll-up get your free money here”.

While we decided to maintain services after Covid the DfT allowed their Train Operating Companies to reduce services, which made their targets easier to hit. So in effect they were rewarded for doing less.

One of the Avanti slides said: “If we achieve those figures, they pay us some more money – which is ours to keep – in the form of a performance-based fee!! Sounds too good to be true?! Well on this occasion – it isn’t – it’s the absolute truth!”

I suppose you can’t blame them for working with the perverse incentives the UK Treasury have put in place. But can you imagine slides like that being presented at a TfW all-managers meeting? That’s the difference. 

The public service values, the genuine sense of collective mission; all that marks TfW out as ‘different’ is to be cherished.

We will stick with our model of public ownership and will not be going back to a private sector partnership. Because the model reflects our values too.

We’ve got to work out the legals with the DfT. But as Covid proved, these are public services, and the financial risk ultimately always lies with Government, so I don’t want TfW distracted by pointless private sector procurement.

We want you to focus on growing revenue, not by gaming the system, but by serving more people so that we can reinvest in public transport. 

Let's not pretend TfW is perfect, no organisation is. It’s a work in progress, of course it is.

I see brilliant people working on the front line every day; the BBC documentary shone a light very clearly on that.

You’ve demonstrated again and again that we are getting some of the big things right.

The south Wales Metro has gone from a presentation that Mark Barry badgered people with in 2010, to the very cusp of going live.

The word transformation is often overused. But in this case it isn’t.

The impressive new tram-trains being tested on newly electrified track up and down the valleys lines testify to that. The incredible new facility in Taffs Well too - the first major train depot built in Wales in over sixty years.

Step back and its clear what’s being achieved here: a reversal in the decline of the railway in Wales, and an engineering accomplishment to at least match London’s CrossRail

Seriously, take a bow.

But as well as the big things we also need to keep a focus on the everyday stuff too: Keeping passengers informed when things go wrong; getting the replacement bus service right; delivering a consistently best-in-class customer service experience all across the network, these are all things that we need to keep working at.

Continuous improvement is essential. Because the difference in our model and the Cayman Island one is that we have to face our customers every day. We are all accountable, all the time.

As a regular passenger for over 25 years and more, I can say with confidence that TfW has already proven its worth. I have seen for myself the difference in service, and the change in culture since the Arriva days. 

Let’s not forget there were parts of the network that didn’t even have trains on a Sunday when TfW took over the franchise. It is hard to imagine now.

Fast forward to today, and we are on the cusp of a turn-up-and-go electric transit network for the south Wales valleys. And a step-change in the passenger experience.

Across Wales we’ve sent the pacers packing, and the sprinters will soon be on their way too.

Wales is no longer at the end of the line when it comes to getting rolling stock. By the end of this year over 95% of journeys will be on new trains.

And we’re seeing the benefits reaching some of our most challenged communities.

Just last week I was on the Ebbw Vale line where we’ve doubled the frequency of services. 30 trains a day, where just 16 years ago, there were no passenger trains at all.

Talk about unmet demand; back in 2008 when we reopened the line to Cardiff passenger numbers exceeded all expectations. And that showed us that the value for money calculations that drive rail investment by the DfT are deeply flawed – which is one of the reasons we get so little of it.

Generations of under-investment in the Welsh railway that we’re now trying to put right.

So it is with confidence that we have put £70m into reconnecting all the villages along the Ebbw Valley line to Newport and the mainline for the first time in 60 years. That’s our commitment to real Levelling Up.

It’s not easy.  Rail infrastructure is the responsibility of the Westminster Government which means the Welsh Government are not funded to do it. So when we put money into rail that’s cash that should have gone elsewhere – to building schools and hospitals.

We shouldn’t have to make that choice.

But because it’s clear that investing in infrastructure in Wales is not a priority for this UK Government, we’ve had to do it.

And we are starting to see the difference it makes.

We had a really lovely launch event in Llanhilleth last Thursday, well organised by Lewis and the team here, which really brought home the value in what we are doing.

As I walked over to the Miners Institute, a lady with a pushchair approached me to ask if I’d have a photo with her grandson so he could look back at this day, the day the new train was launched. It really means something. There was a palpable sense of excitement, and appreciation of the new opportunities this has opened up.

Improvements in north Wales too, we’ve restored direct services to Liverpool, we’ve increased the frequency on the Wrexham to Bidston line and thanks for hard work by Jan and his team we’ve made the service more reliable. And of course, we’ve invested in new trains as well.

The newly published Burns Commission report for north Wales, heavily informed by the work of TfW’s North Wales Metro team, gives us a pipeline of future projects to work up too.

We pocket this stuff. But we shouldn’t.

I know you don’t have to look far on social media to see what the Welsh Government is doing wrong, but let’s be clear about this: Without devolution, and without this Welsh Government, this rail investment would not be happening.

Over one Billion Pounds invested in the Metro. 800 million on the biggest investment in new trains in living memory.

There’s nothing inevitable about these choices, especially when money is tight, but it reflects our commitment to deliver the opportunity that the Metro represents.

Compare this with the way the UK Government has approached HS2. Instead of constant reviews, uncertainty and descoping, we have stuck to the core proposition.

We’ve had some very tough choices to make in the last year as costs have risen on the Metro for reasons that are entirely explainable, but nonetheless painful. And through it all the entire Cabinet has remain committed to seeing it through.

As Lord Peter Hendy once wisely pointed out: projects like the Metro always take longer than you hoped, they always cost more than you expected – but you never regret it once the work is done.

You should all be incredibly proud of what’s been achieved and your part in it. It takes a team. And your team is doing good things.

And that’s my theme for today, everything TfW does is about people.

That can get lost from time to time.

We rightly focus on the innovation that sits behind getting tri-mode trains through tunnels , the derogations from rail standards, , the electric flexi buses, the Active Travel Design Standards, trialling Pay-As-You-Go ticketing between Cardiff and Newport- the only place outside London to do it.

This is all really cool stuff. And we are pushing the boundaries. But none of these are ends in themselves.

We are all doing this to makes people’s lives a bit easier, to enable them to work, to connect people to their friends and their passtimes. To create a real social network that doesn’t depend on having a car.

So let's never forget the work you do is all about people: the people of Wales; Today, and in the future.

In fact, the work that you do is central to future-proofing our communities from the challenges that are coming at us fast.

Rising temperatures are reshaping our environment and upending our climate.

1 in 8 Welsh properties are already at risk of flooding from rivers, the sea and surface water.  Even if we didn’t release another drop of carbon, temperatures and sea-levels would keep on rising because of the emissions we’ve already put into the atmosphere. 

I suspect you haven’t spent much time looking through the NRW website at the flood maps. But when you’ve got a moment please type into your search engine ‘NRW and coastal erosion maps’, and look at your nearest bit of coast, and prepare to gasp at what’s coming.

These aren’t the rantings of an evangelist. I’m not an eco-warrior. Though I must confess I did hug a tree the other day when walking my dog just to see what it was like – it was quite lovely as it turns out. Who knew?

You don't need to be a green activist to see that this is serious stuff, and it's already happening.

Railway lines washed away, landslips causing expensive disruption, 50,000 additional homes at risk of flooding over the next century.

Our most densely populated coastal towns - Newport, Cardiff, Swansea, Llanelli, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Llandudno, Rhyl – all deeply vulnerable to coastal erosion, sea and river flooding by the time a child born today reaches old age. 

Just look at the Network Rail climate adaptation plan for Wales and you’ll see that the impacts go far beyond flooding. More wild weather causing speed restrictions, extreme heat causing track buckles, more intense and frequent storms, causing more delays and cancellations.

That’s already locked in. And if we miss our NetZero targets – which is our current trajectory - it will get worse.

And it’s your children, and theirs, who will face the full consequences of what the scientists call ‘catastrophic climate change’ within their lifetimes. But climate breakdown won’t happen in a linear way, it be will erratic and unpredictable. It won’t wait till 2050 to show itself.

Scientists are cautious souls, and a bit dull in their use of language, so when they use words like ‘catastrophic’ - we should pay attention.

Nobody can say we haven’t been warned. 2023 saw:

Greenhouse gas levels at a record high

Antarctic sea ice at a record low

Global temperatures at a record high

Sea level rise at record high

This is happening in real-time. We are seeing man-made climate change taking place at the upper end of the projections the world’s scientists have been modelling – the upper end!.

It’s a dynamic situation, and the longer we take to face up to it, the more unstable the climate is becoming. And the more difficult, and expensive, it will be to mitigate.

This isn’t a counsel of doom; it is call to action.

It is in our self-interest to act. And we must act with urgency.

The worst impacts of global warming are terrible, but are not yet inevitable.

We still have time, there is a small window, but we will have to make different choices NOW. 

I’m not saying any of this for effect, I’m saying it because we need to focus our minds on the scale of the action we all need to take, the pace at which we need to take it, and the role we all have to play.

In the next decade we need to cut our emissions by more than we’ve managed in the last three decades put together. 30 years worth of cuts in under 10 years.

It’s a big ask, its never been done before. And we haven't a hope of doing it without cutting transport emissions.

And we haven't a hope of doing that without you.

Now unless you haven’t been paying attention over the last year, you’ll have noticed that changing transport is not easy. And not always popular.

As well as being complex and slow to change, the transport system we are dealing with is not just about engineering, it’s about emotions, values and identity. About people.

The motor industry has spent billions over decades to get us to think about the car as intrinsic to our freedom, to our image, and even to our self-worth.

“It’s one of the biggest public relations coups of all time’’ says the American transport historian Peter Norton. His research catalogues just how motor industry lobbying has shaped our towns and cities and indeed our very idea of what ‘normal’ is.

He calls it ‘motordom’: “If you locked me in a 7-Eleven for a week”, Norton says, “and then after the end of the week unlocked the door and you studied my diet over the previous seven days, then concluded that I prefer highly processed, packaged foods to fresh fruits and vegetables, I would say your study is flawed”.

Our choices aren’t always our own. As NICE, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence said way back in 2007, we’ve created an environment that is ‘obesogenic’. What surrounds us shapes our behaviour.

Free will is a bit of an illusion if to reach a health centre we need to get to an out-of-town location that doesn't have a bus service or even a pavement.

The eureka moment in my own intellectual journey through transport policy was the realisation that there’s nothing inevitable about the way our system works. It all reflects choices that have been made. And we can still make different choices. In fact reaching NetZero demands that we do make different choices It is always scary to do; people say it’s just not realistic. But was it realistic to pedestrianise New York’s Broadway, to make Paris bike-friendly, or to charge people to drive into central London?

Was it realistic for the Bern canton in Switzerland to guarantee every small village an hourly bus service linked into a national timetable?

There’s nothing in the Dutch DNA that makes them more likely to cycle in the rain with their shopping than people in Llanelli or Llangefni.

These are all as realistic as you choose them to be. All of these were a choice to make a change.

It feels daunting. But it is the challenge of our generation. And it is also the opportunity of your working lifetime, to get Wales to where the rest of the world is going to need to get to, before them.

And if nothing else, it's good for the CV!

Seriously, our message to the people we need recruit, and the contractors we need help from, should be ‘come to Wales to be creative, try stuff, and learn, because your next client will be interested’.

Bringing a nation’s bus network back under public control, and integrating it into One Network is without precedent, and so could be one of the most rewarding things you do in their career.

This is a huge professional challenge; an organisational challenge and a culture change challenge.

It’s also a tremendously exciting opportunity to create something new. Something that will improve people’s lives, improve the economy of the communities we come from, and it’s a practical thing we can do to head off a climate catastrophe.

Because if we don’t change the way we think and do transport we simply will not be able to hit our overall legally binding NetZero target. And we can’t say we haven't been warned.

But that doesn’t change the fact that is hugely challenging, not least because there is fierce resistance to change – lots of it organic, a fair bit of it organised.

I noticed a debate on Twitter last week on whether I was the first or second most hated person in Wales! In return I tweeted a picture of my dog licking me to show that I’m not universally unpopular – at least my dog loves me.

I’ve had to face the displeasure of the public, just as you and your teams on the front-line have had to face passengers’ frustrations. And I understand why people are unhappy, as I’m sure you do.

We are seen as stopping things without putting alternatives in place first: You’ve cancelled my new road but you’re cutting the buses; use the train, you say, but be prepared to stand and be squashed like a sardine.

I totally get that.

It doesn’t matter if that’s not the whole picture, it doesn't need to be. Perception is more important than reality when it comes to change.

The frustrating thing about being a Minister is you know what needs to be done, but you can’t always do it all in the order or the speed you want to.

I’m hugely frustrated that we could not follow through on our intention to introduce a £1 flat bus fare for all. Not a single person in our government wants to see a bus route pulled. But the reality of austerity cuts just cannot be avoided.

We’ve done our very best to safeguard as much as we can – a base bus network that can be expanded when passenger numbers go back up, or when funding starts to flow again, as I dearly hope it will.

But fundamentally we’re stymied by a system that is broken.

Rail privatisation fully collapsed during the pandemic as every company handed back its franchise. And the commercial bus model keeled over because there were just no profitable routes.

We’re fixing the system, but it takes a long time to undo the damage. And I’m afraid because of the policy of austerity we don’t have enough money to do everything we want.

Clearly it would be better, and a lot less painful, to put alternatives to car use in place before trying to reduce car use. I agree that it would be better. But that’s not the world we find ourselves in; and global warming won’t wait for us to get all our ducks in a row.

To reach NetZero every sector must cut its carbon footprint urgently. To-date transport has contributed the least to cutting emissions – a fall of just 6% since 1990, compared to cuts of 64% in emissions from sectors like waste . Transport is a laggard.

But if we are serious about all our talk on the importance of ‘protecting the wellbeing of future generations’ then that must change, pronto.

As ever there are loud voices who tell us not to worry, who tell us there’s no point if China is still opening new coal mines, and who tell us technology will do the heavy lifting for us so we needn’t worry.

Well like the USA, and the UK, and the EU, China is not doing enough, but they are shifting, and when they move they move fast. Last year more solar energy come online in China than in the entire world the year before.

And as the country that kicked off the Industrial Revolution, we’ve got a responsibility to deal with its consequences too.

Clearly, we need to decarbonise transport – the sooner we switch to lower emissions vehicles the better. But the advice of the independent UK Climate Change Commission is clear, we cannot rely on electric vehicles to reach our emissions targets. They are necessary, but not sufficient.

We also need to reduce car use, and shift journeys onto public transport.

Around 32% of journeys in Wales are made by walking, cycling, bus and rail at the moment. We’ve got a target to get it up to 45% by 2040. That’s what we mean by modal shift.

That still won’t be enough to get us in line with where the science suggests we need to be, but even doing that will be a big stretch.

And it cannot be done without TfW.

It cannot be done without you.

It is a must-do to avoid the huge harms of global warming, yes, but it’s also vital to help improve the lives of our families and our neighbours in the immediate future.

From pavements clogged by cars, to parents fearful of letting their children play out, to town centres being choked-off by out-of-town shopping; the impact of a transport policy with the private car at the centre is plain to see.

What’s harder to see is the transport poverty low-income families are forced into because of it. 

We rightly worry that families who spend more than 10% of their income on heating their home are suffering Fuel Poverty. But some of the poorest families are spending up to a quarter of their household income on running a car – and yet we don’t get as exercised about the transport poverty they are living with.

If the only viable way to get to get around is by car, then families force their finances to get one.

High levels of car ownership are not a sign of success. They are a sign that we don’t give people a choice.

And let's not forget those who really don’t have a choice, some of our most vulnerable neighbours who through being disabled, disadvantaged, old or poor - simply can’t access a car.

That’s where TfW comes in.

The task is to create a real alternative for people.

One that people choose to use because it easy and attractive to use.

That’s how we achieve our modal shift targets and reach NetZero: By making sustainable transport a no-brainer. Make it easy and people will use it.

As we’ve learned from our soaring recycling rates, the 3rd best in the world, make it easy and it becomes habitual – introduce friction and it fails.

To get it right we need to start from the viewpoint of the user – the passenger; the person we want to make life easy for; the person who usually drives, AND the person who doesn’t have another way to get around.

What currently makes most of us jump in a car? Convenience, flexibility and habit.

How do we get people to choose a different way to get around? Convenience, flexibility and habit.

Simple? Yes.

Easy? No.

But if anyone can do it, you can do it.

The job Transport for Wales was created to do, is nearly done. The point of delivery of the Metro will mark the end of the first phase of TfW’s development. 

It's time to reboot and start the second phase – Transport for Wales 2.0.

If TfW version 1 was about procuring, designing and delivering a better railway. Version two is about joining up all forms of public transport and designing them to be the easiest way to make most journeys.

Now, we’ve made a start.

First things first, leadership.

Transport for Wales has a key role to play as a public transport ‘guiding mind’ that integrates bus, rail and active travel.

I have written into TfW’s official remit letter that the board must lead the change to a multi-modal organisation. A challenge Scott Waddington and the others have embraced.

The board needs to stitch together the different parts of the systemTo that end I’ve put a representative of local government, Cllr Andrew Morgan, onto the board as a formal observer, as well as the Welsh Government’s Director of transport, Peter McDonald, to sit alongside our trade union representative and fuse together the critical wiring of the leadership bodies.

We have to recognise this will be as much about culture change as anything else. I don’t underestimate what a big shift it represents, nor how hard culture change is. And I think we need to be upfront about that and recognise what we need to do here. It is at least as challenging as building a new railway on top of an existing one that’s still running. At least.

As part of the effort to break down barriers the first cohort of secondees from TfW will join Welsh Government next month. This is an opportunity for operational reality to influence policy and vice versa. And again, it demonstrates the different relationships in Wales from the one in England between Government and TOCs. Let's leverage that.

Marie Daly is a pivotal figure as Chief Customer and Culture Officer in working with the board and the rest of the leadership to take TfW 2.0 from theory into practice.

As with everything we will do this in social partnership. None of it can happen without the full buy-in of the workforce, and we are already having detailed and positive conversations with the trade unions about how we can best embrace the change together.

Marie is a member of the new formal sub-group of the board that has been created to drive forward the change from TfW version 1 to version 2. It is being led by Vernon Everitt who, as you know, has direct experience of running a multi-modal operator as a former managing director of Transport for London, and now Transport Commissioner for Greater Manchester where their lessons on bus franchising are invaluable for us.

The second big thing we’re changing is the scope of TfW. As you know I’ve been slowly building up the Active Travel capability over the last five years. There is now a skilled team that is evolving into a centre of excellence for Councils and Welsh Government to draw on.

We’ve focused on getting a good pipeline of walking and cycling schemes for each part of Wales, and want to move on to behaviour change projects in parallel.

Next up is bus.

Our current system is broken. In fact, you could well argue that it was set-up to fail, and covid came along and put it out of its misery.

We all know that passengers don't understand why the buses and trains don’t link up. And we’ve spent years fiddling at the edges with all kinds of well-meaning initiatives to achieve the holy grail of joint ticketing and integration. They've not really worked because we haven’t addressed the fundamental problem: the system wasn’t designed to integrate.

When the Thatcher Government deregulated the bus industry in 1985, it designed a system based on competition. They made it illegal for bus companies to coordinate routes and fares. But as 30 years of declining passenger numbers and routes has shown, the market has failed to increase passenger choice. Instead, it has pushed people into cars, and in effect has told those who don’t drive to suck it up.

To achieve our modal shift targets the system needs to be overhauled, and we want to give TfW the job of redesigning public transport in Wales around the needs of the passenger.

Later this year we’ll take a new law through the Senedd to move from route-by-route competition to a planned approach. A managed franchised system in place of a free-for-all.

Bus routes will not be dictated by the decisions of private companies of where they can make most profit, they’ll be designed with local councils using TfW data of where people want to travel to and aligned with train timetables.

This will be a planned system that will allow us to end the absurdity of a bus operator refusing to stop at the railway station because they might lose passengers to the train.

We will end the ban on using the profits of a busy route in a town to support an unprofitable route in a rural area

We will design a more efficient system and end the absurdity of public money supporting competing buses and trains along the same routes.

To give you one recent example of how dysfunctional the system currently is let's look at the new Grange hospital near Cwmbran. Not only was it built without any thought for how people without a car would access it, but no commercial operator was willing to put on a bus service.

When we tried to subsidise a route from the hospital to local towns we faced the threat of legal action under competition law because there was an operator who already ran a bus on a very short section of the route and it was considered unfair that their profit could be harmed by a publicly supported route.

That’s the system we’re dealing with! No matter the needs of the people, the needs of the market come first.

As I said earlier the fragmented system of deregulation was not designed to help public transport flourish, and that why we’re re-wiring the system in Wales to create a seamless one designed around the needs of people.

And that brings me to our third area of reform to support the move to TfW 2.0. We need to change the plumbing.

We must to stop thinking about individual transport modes in isolation  – separate plans for train, bus and active travel. And start thinking, and working, around the needs of people and of communities in all parts of Wales.

We are starting to see the fruits of this approach by tasking the senior team in TfW to start thinking on a multi-modal basis. In effect all the senior rail people are now also the senior bus people who are shaping the design of bus franchising. In the People team, Commercial, Marketing and others, there are already great examples where traditionally ‘rail’ people are now working on bus or integration projects too.

Passengers will be able to see what this means in practice soon. When Cardiff bus station finally opens this year, it will have the look and feel of a rail station, and a single operational team will support both.

If we want travellers to have a seamless experience, we need our operations to also be seamless between modes.

This is progress , and we need more of it. It doesn’t happen anywhere outside of Transport for London. In fact, we are working with TfL to deliver management training on how WG and TfW can become truly multi-modal partners. We are keen to learn and to be outward looking.

I know the culture of working ‘on the railway’, or ‘on the buses’ is set. But we have to try and reshape it.

I want to use the evolution to TfW 2.0 to create a pipeline of skills and talent that can work across modes. I’ve asked James Price to look at creating a TfW 2.0 Leadership Academy to nurture future leaders and encourage a multi-modal culture.

We have called our plan for bus reform ‘One Network, One timetable, One Ticket’. It is a pithy description of our aim. We have Dr Ian Taylor to thank for that. He drew on the experience of successful public transport systems on the continent who have an overarching supervisory board charged with to co-ordinating all the different functions.

To create the ‘guiding mind’ that will help join up the different modes TfW will sit alongside Councils and the Welsh Government in a tripartite partnership to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Local authorities are critical to this. They now need to work at a regional level to develop jointly agreed Regional Transport Plans which will deliver the modal shift targets in our national transport strategy in a way that’s tailored for each part of Wales and the communities who live there.

That will help us generate a prioritised pipeline of multi-modal schemes.

To support that we’re morphing the regional Metro teams that cover some parts of Wales into regional transport teams for all of Wales.

TfW, Councils and Welsh Government working as one team.

Lee Robinson, now reporting direct to James Price, as Executive Director for Regional Transport and Integration, will lead a dedicated team.  Again, there’s a big element of culture change here.

Some in local authorities have seen TfW as encroaching on their turf. We want TfW to be seen as a source of help, a solution to aid overstretched Council teams, not a threat to be resisted.

We are all public servants trying to make people’s lives easier. And we need to think and act like a team.

Lee’s team will support partners to think regionally, and to think multi-modally; to look at the whole picture, not just the different transport elements. Land-use and planning are critical to making modal shift work; we want to end the perverse practice of new developments being built without thought for how people will get there by public transport or active travel.

We’ve seen the regional team approach work really well in the south east where the Burns Delivery Unit has successfully taken the recommendations of the South East Wales Transport Commission on alternatives to the M4, and developed a pipeline of public transport schemes. A joint delivery team, supervised by a delivery board to chase progress.

It has worked. And when things work I’m a fan of the ‘adopt or justify’ approach. Unless you can give me a good reason why this approach wouldn't work in your area then you should adopt it.

I want the same to happen in north Wales with the recently published Transport Commission report also led by Lord Terry Burns. And in the other Corporate Joint Committees too. Ruth Wojtan’s work on the Burns Commission and that of her team on the north Wales Metro programme has been instrumental in this thinking and deserves to be recognised.

This is an exciting change programme. It is critical to the future of your children and our communities. And it is a very practical response to the question many people ask when they comprehend the climate challenge – ‘but what can I do?’

This is what you can do: Embrace TfW 2.0; Think less of modes, and more of people's needs; Think less of organisational boundaries and more of the outcomes we need, and use your leadership to kickdown barriers.

TfW have probably been on a faster growth curve than any other public body in modern Welsh history. Rough edges still, yes, but hugely impressive.

After health and education, TfW is our next largest public service. One of the main touchpoints Government in Wales has with people.

The organisation has already had to invent itself, and now must redesign itself to meet the challenge of our time.

And we want your ideas – the Challenge 100 scheme is a genuine opportunity for you and your teams to contribute. I won’t be entering the prize draw, but as my contribution I’ve suggested we look at a way of selling empty seats at times of low demand at discounted prices. If it works for Ryanair or MegaBus can it work for TfW? Of course, it’s not as simple as that but let's see.Let me end by just reading to you the headings from the TfW remit letter of what needs to be at the core of TfW 2.0:

(1) Maximise modal shift to sustainable transport modes

(2) Deliver a fully integrated transport system in Wales

(3) Nurture a multi-modal culture in Wales

(4) Encourage behaviour change

(5) And seize on all these to drive up revenue, minimise costs and exploit opportunities.

Pulling all this together is what we mean by TfW playing a ‘Guiding mind’ role.

There are already brilliant examples out there that point towards the kind of whole system change in thinking and approach TfW 2.0 is shorthand for.

Take the Sherpa bus service for example.

With behaviour change as its starting point – not as a nice to have, or an afterthought – TfW have come together with Eryri National Park and local bus operators to try and reduce the number of cars visiting Snowdonia.

And often it’s a series of small changes that then add up to become more than the sum of their parts:

Tweaking the bus timetable so it marries up with rail services on the Conwy Valley Line

A consistent fare structure that’s easy for people to understand and a decent website with timetable information

Putting on more services at busy times

Rebranding the service and improving the marketing

And then behind the scenes: removing the duplication of services to reduce subsidy and support local authorities to consolidate and repackage contracts

Behaviour change led. Properly joined up. And giving people real choice. That’s what we must do more of, because when its done well it works. Combined with increased parking enforcement within the national park this package has led to passenger growth of 38%, and a drop in the volume of cars in the National Park .

Make it easy and people will make different choices.

For 70 years transport policy has focused on making jumping in the car the easiest way to get around, so that’s what we do. Turn up and go.

That’s what we need from sustainable transport too. Easy, convenient, turn up and go.

A country's public transport system is a powerful indicator of it values, its culture, and its know-how. By helping to shape the next version of TfW you have a chance to make a real difference – to your community, to our country, and to our collective challenge of tackling climate change. It is as exciting as it is urgent.

So let's work together to make something we can all be proud of.

Now I’ve been in this role for a while and have done a bit of heavy lifting. But the real job is putting these ideas into practice, and I can’t do that, only you can. In about 6 weeks we’ll have a new First Minister.

Both candidates for leadership are committed to the Metro, and committed to reaching Net Zero.

The board and leadership of TfW are committed to the objectives of TfW 2.0. Not just because of a remit letter from a Minister, but because it makes sense to the business.

The change you are all delivering is giving everyone confidence that TfW is a can-do organisation.

The next steps are clear, and they are in your hands. The challenge is exciting. The prize is huge. The consequence of failure too grim to think about.

Wales is relying on you all. And I look forward to watching you seize the opportunity and deliver the real social network.

Diolch am bobeth un waith eto


Ynyr said…
Gwych - a phob lwc ar y daith i 2.0
Owen Williams said…
Arbennig. Pob llwyddiant Trafnidiaeth Cymru (I maintain that there’s an opportunity for a rebrand!)
Charlie Nelson said…
A few comments;

1. “The south Wales Metro has gone from a presentation that Mark Barry badgered people with in 2010, to the very cusp of going live.”

An idea that he “lifted” from Sewta and badged it as his own work.

2. “Without devolution, and without this Welsh Government, this rail investment would not be happening.”

It galls me to think of what we delivered through Sewta and its predecessors between 1988 and 2008 is just totally ignored. Local authority officers led the projects to re-open the City, Aberdare and Maesteg Line for passengers, to build longer platforms, to re-model Abercynon and Pontypridd stations, and opened Energlyn, Llanharan, Penycoedcae and Pontyclun new stations.

3. “If TfW version 1 was about procuring, designing and delivering a better railway. Version two is about joining up all forms of public transport and designing them to be the easiest way to make most journeys.”

Tell that to the people using the new TfW designed T22 service that misses the rail connection at Blaenau Ffestiniog by nine minutes
Lee Waters said…
Nice to hear from you Charlie.

I think the decision to get of Sewta and the others was a big mistake. And you are right that they were part of the movement that led to the Metro. I think Mark deserves special mention for building political support for the concept. It wouldn't have happened otherwise.

In terms of the T22 via Criccieth I understand it will pick up the route via Porthmadog Station on the opposite hour to the T2. This is a more natural route via the villages it serves on its way to Porthmadog and the T2 will operate direct between Criccieth and Porthmadog via Penamser Road, serving Aldi and Lidl.

The timetable design for the T2 and T22 has been focussed on ensuring there is a co-ordinated timetable on the common sections of route to provide an hourly headway, as well as to preserve connections with other buses and trains (e.g. the T1 and trains at Aberystwyth). This does mean that it is impossible to preserve these connections and connect at stations like Porthmadog, where there is a train timetable that does not operate consistently.
Michael Whittaker said…

Thank you very much for posting this speech, I for sure find this most helpful in keeping up with developments in Wales. As the first and last Lead Officer for Taith (the North Wales Regional Transport Consortium) was proud of having the idea to develop and bring to life the original local North and Mid Wales metro vision map as part of the North East Wales Integrated Transport Study (with Tracc Ann Elias / Chris Wilson) which later became the launch network concept which has since be carried on by Ruth W and others in North Wales. Stand ready for the next instalment of TfW 3.0 which will bring in Freight, Fleet and Logistics for the final piece of the jigsaw.
Anonymous said…
Probably the best speech I’ve heard from a Minister anywhere in the JK for some time.
A statement from Newport Transport:

Following the Deputy Ministers speech to Transport for Wales Staff on the 6th February, Newport Transport wishes to clarify points made by the Deputy Minister which, in its view, might be misconstrued.

Whilst not named by the Deputy Minister in the following comment:

‘To give you one recent example of how dysfunctional the system currently is let's look at the new Grange hospital near Cwmbran. Not only was it built without any thought for how people without a car would access it, but no commercial operator was willing to put on a bus service.

When we tried to subsidise a route from the hospital to local towns, we faced the threat of legal action under competition law because there was an operator who already ran a bus on a very short section of the route and it was considered unfair that their profit could be harmed by a publicly supported route.’

Newport Transport is the only operator running a commercial service into the Grange Hospital and it has operated the 29 service linking Newport and Cwmbran (via Ponthir and Llanfrechfa) for many years prior to the building of the hospital.

Newport Transport is strongly of the view that there is a bus stop infrastructure at the Grange due only to lobbying by Newport Transport supported by Torfaen Council, Newport City Council and Aneurin Bevan facilities staff. There was none proposed in the original plans.

Newport Transport believes it used the development and serving of a critical care facility, to improve frequency, operational times, and accessibility to services for residents, as part of its successful bid to the Department of Transport for ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) funding, which now provides zero emission electric vehicles on the route serving the Grange.

In part of their speech, the Deputy Minister made reference to the absurdity of public money supporting competing bus services on the same route. However, this is what the Welsh Government did in approaching another operator to run a competing service between Cwmbran and the Grange. The fact that this “new” service was curtailed some six months after it started confirms there wasn’t the public demand for the service. This supports the view of Newport Transport that operators are best placed to understand demand patterns not civil servants or politicians.

Newport Transport was the only operator providing the link to the Grange Hospital. It was concerned at the prospect of public money being used to duplicate an existing service, particularly when BES funding with its associated restrictions was in place. Legal advice was not sought to protect profits, but to protect the rest of the route which serves the communities listed above. The Deputy Minister appears not to understand fully the fragile environment in which bus services operate, where changes to one part of a route can affect the efficiency and viability of the whole.

The Deputy Minister is trying to justify public services franchising and TFW’s role in that model. However, the example he gives to justify this undermines that position. The service to the Grange already existed, already provided joint ticketing for passenger convenience and also demonstrated the hub and spoke principle favoured by the Welsh Governments own White Paper.


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