For the very first time in railway history in Wales, the rail network in Wales will be managed by an independent business unit in Wales. Created as part of Network Rail’s national devolution strategy, the new business – Network Rail Wales – will take responsibility from London, Swindon, Birmingham and Manchester. Based in its central Cardiff headquarters it will be responsible for the operation, maintenance, renewal and enhancements of the railway across Wales.
As one of its key priorities, the new business will aim to ease growing congestion in south Wales with projects including the remodelling of the railway in Cardiff and Valleys to enable more trains to run in the area and encourage new businesses to relocate to Wales.
Leading the business is Mark Langman, newly appointed route managing director, who was previously the route director for Western route.
Mark Langman said: “This is a significant change for the way we manage the railway in Wales. It will deliver a step change in our drive to improve value for money and become even closer to the train operators, passengers and the communities we serve in Wales.
“Devolution is only possible because of the gains we have made in recent years – record safety and punctuality levels, the most passengers carried for seven decades and record levels of passenger satisfaction. This change builds on these successes.”
“A good transport infrastructure is at the heart of a growing and vibrant economy and rail is well positioned to meet that need and underpin future growth. The creation of the Wales route means that we will be able to strengthen our presence, by being better placed to explore opportunities with our industry colleagues, the Welsh Government and businesses to optimise rail investment.”
The First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, said: “I am very pleased to be launching the start of Network Rail’s new Wales Route. The Welsh Government has good working relations with Network Rail, and this has been instrumental to the successful delivery of many projects in Wales. I see this relationship going from strength to strength as we work closely and more cohesively.”
“We want to improve rail services in Wales and to develop our rail infrastructure to improve the connections within Wales and with England, particularly to support the economic growth of our country, and I hope we will now have a strengthened lever to do so.”
Network Rail Wales plans to invest around £400m over the next two fiscal years to operate, maintain and renew the 936 route miles of railway in Wales. Additional funding has also been secured to boost rail services in Wales by 2017 - this investment includes the regeneration of the railway around Cardiff and electrification of the main line from Cardiff to London.
Instead of separate teams in charge of signalling, tracks, electrical supplies, tunnels and bridges each reporting to different managers currently based in Swindon and Manchester, Network Rail Wales will have its own team of experts working together across Wales.
The workforce in the Wales route is 1,300 strong which includes 40 new roles created as part of the creation of the route.
Also in Europe today, City.Mobi is celebrating the success of its new guide to London.
City.Mobi offers the most comprehensive mobile travel guides available, with over 800 cities in 200 countries listed. Each is developed by the City.Mobi team to combine into a single global travel directory.
London.mobi is the latest in this illustrious line up, offering click to call functionality – which means no scribbling down telephone numbers.
Most entries are also linked to websites where users can quickly access more detailed information if needed.
Other key features include information on accommodation, restaurants, attractions, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, and transport.
City.Mobi guides include user reviews and traveller utilities such as a translation guide, currency converter, news and local weather guide.