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TSSA Safety Concerns About Valley Rail Lines Sale

27 February 2019

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has expressed serious concerns about the proposed sale to the Welsh Government of the Valley Lines in South Wales, including Cardiff Queen Street station.

The move would see these lines transfer from publicly-owned Network Rail to the Welsh Government, which would then contract a private company to run them.

The deal is the first time a significant part of the national rail network has been sold off since British Rail was created in 1948. It will also be the first time that a chunk of Wales' railways would be run by the private sector since Railtrack was forced into administration in 2002.

Railtrack was wound up following a series of rail disasters that TSSA firmly blames on the private company putting profit before safety.

A one-month consultation started on Friday (22nd February), and the proposed sale date is 22nd September, with completion of the handover due to follow in March 2020.

Commenting, Manuel Cortes said: “TSSA members are rightly concerned about what the proposed handover to private operators will mean for safety. No-one wants to see a 'Welsh Railtrack'.

“Rail passengers in South Wales should be asking why Network Rail, a company that runs the safest railway in the world, should relinquish control of the Valley lines to the private sector.

"This move by the Labour-run Wales Government makes no sense - especially given UK Labour 's commitment to renationalising Britain's railways."

TSSA also has concerns about the financial risks to the Welsh Government which will have to effectively underwrite a piece of railway which is desperately in need of investment and modernisation, and which is very vulnerable to flooding and mining subsidence.

The Valleys routes are Cardiff Bay via Cardiff Queen Street to Rhymney and Coryton plus the routes from Cardiff Queen Street North Junction to Merthyr Tydfil, Aberdare and Treherbert, plus the freight lines to Hirwaun and Cwmbargoed.  

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