Devolution of the Valley Lines

Nick Layt
Nick Layt
Enhancement Projects Manager, Wales & West of England.
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Control of the Core Valley Lines network recently completed its transfer from Network Rail to Transport for Wales (TfW), which will – in time – see new services, new trains and upgraded stations along the railway network running from Cardiff to Treherbert, Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil, Coryton, and Rhymney.

Transport for Wales started running passenger services on the Wales and Borders franchise in 2018, an event that heralded the start of a planned transformation of the service for passengers.

ORR's role in ensuring a smooth transfer

Although passengers will likely see no difference in the change of ownership, before the transfer could go ahead, it was the ORR’s job to be sure that the selected network operator met the safety requirements, had the necessary licence and all access agreements with operators were in place.

Across ORR, teams worked hard to ensure that regulatory authorisations were in place for the transfer to take place. Things we needed to consider included ensuring that track and train are not run by the same company (as required by European Law), and that access is granted to all operators who wish to operate on the network, including freight and charter operators.

This has become one of the few areas where rail services transfer between two railway networks during their journey - running on Network Rail south of Cardiff before switching to TfW infrastructure near Queen Street.

We also worked with TfW and the network operator to consider issues such as how penalties will be applied if a late running train on the valleys line delays services on Network Rail infrastructure.

Finally, some of the money that Network Rail was allocated to run the railway in Wales will transfer to the new network operator. We will continue to monitor Network Rail's delivery of its stated obligations on the rest of the Wales and Borders network.

As TfW says – the journey has just begun.