KeolisAmey takes over from Arriva Trains Wales, which has operated the franchise since December 2003. Arriva withdrew from the contest to operate the new franchise last September.
Transport for Wales (TfW) selected KeolisAmey as Operator and Development Partner for Wales and Borders franchise and the South Wales Metro in May. The 15-year contract was signed the following month.
“This is an important moment for rail in Wales - indeed for devolution itself,” first minister Mr Carwyn Jones said at the launch of the new franchise on October 14. “Led by TfW with our partners KeolisAmey this will be the very first ‘made in Wales’ rail service, designed and delivered by the Welsh Government. The opportunity to redesign and repurpose our railway network in Wales is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and I am confident that by 2033 it can be the best passenger rail service in the UK.”
Around £800m will be invested in rolling stock and by 2023 95% of journeys will be made on a new fleet of 148 trains. The average age of the fleet will drop from 25 years to seven years by 2024.
Stadler will supply 36 CityLink tram-trains and 35 Flirt multiple units for the South Wales Metro network, while CAF will supply and maintain 44 two-car and 26 three-car Civity DMUs for regional services. These will be assembled at the new CAF Rolling Stock UK plant at the Celtic Business Park in Llanwern near Newport.
In addition, Vivarail is supplying five three-car class 230 battery-diesel multiple units, which will be converted from former London Underground District Line trains.
£738m has been earmarked for the modernisation of the Central Metro Lines north of Cardiff Queen Street, which is being implemented with the aid of a £119m grant from the European Union.
In addition, £194m will be spent “improving the passenger experience” at stations across Wales.