Arriva Trains Wales, the firm that runs most of Wales’ rail network, has announced it is pulling out of a competitive tender process to continue running services from 2018.
Tom Joyner, managing director of Arriva Trains Wales, said the Arriva Group had withdrawn from the bidding process for the next Wales and Borders franchise.
“Our key priority following this announcement is to continue to focus on the delivery of our services for the people and communities that depend on us for the remainder of the current franchise,” he said.
“We will continue to work closely with our government and industry partners to support them with the delivery of their priorities.”
The German-owned train company has run the franchise since 2003. There are three remaining bidders—Abellio, KeolisAmey and MTR.
Transport for Wales confirmed the company’s withdrawal from the tender process and said the final three firms would be submitting their bids in December.
“It is not uncommon for bidders for major projects to withdraw during the tender process and Arriva have been clear they have done this for their own commercial reasons,” it said.
“The procurement process is a tough and demanding one and we recognise Arriva’s extensive work to date.
“With final tenders due later this year, we have three companies with world-class credentials each putting their own, distinct cases for how they will deliver the ambitious objectives we set, with the goal of delivering a step change in rail services for passengers across Wales and the Borders.”
A new operator will be appointed in 2018.
However, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers said the revelation exposed “the whole flaky and opportunist nature of the rail franchise process” and that Arriva “appear to have pulled out because they can’t make enough money”.
Andrew Davies, a member of the Conservative opposition in the Welsh Assembly, said Arriva’s tender withdrawal raised “questions over the Welsh government’s engagement with the tender process”.
“We need absolute confidence from the cabinet secretary that he and his team are handling the tender process correctly … and that the ensuing transition period rail users will not see a deterioration in services,” he said.
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