Jesse Norman was on BBC Hereford & Worcester this morning talking to Elliott and Toni about the problems faced by students from Hereford Sixth Form College, Herefordshire and Ludlow College, Hereford College of Arts and other schools and colleges trying to catch trains using the much-reduced services from Transport for Wales.
Listen to the interview below or read the transcript below.
Elliott: It’s a row that’s now spread to the Welsh Assembly and brought in several of the region’s MPs. Jesse Norman is MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire and joins us now – good morning Jesse.
Jesse: Good morning Elliot.
E: Have you been contacted by parents at the Sixth Form College, and what have they said to you?
J: I have been following this for weeks and weeks. From the beginning of term there has been a problem with Transport for Wales. It was picked up almost immediately by students across all the Colleges in Hereford and I have been working with the College heads ever since then to try to make changes and get some improvement. We had a session with Transport for Wales which I called and hosted, with their Operations Director, precisely to go through each one of these different concerns; trains not large enough, not properly filled, kids being segregated. They of course heard all the comments and undertook to make change. We haven’t had any change and this was about three weeks ago so at the beginning of this week I wrote to the Chief Executive of Transport for Wales copying the Chief Executives of the two parent companies of which it is an offshoot, Keolis and Amey, and saying we need an action plan, we need to get this sorted and I need concrete assurances now and if that doesn’t happen, we’ll go to the Welsh Government, which is the commissioning entity and tell them that they need to change it, because the idea that they can’t find enough trains when the entire railway across this country is on 30% of capacity because of lack of use due to Covid is frankly risible; a joke.
E: How long is this likely to take though? We’re heading towards half term, this needs to be sorted quickly.
J: I entirely agree. We just don’t know and the trouble is that there may be an inevitable process whereby they have to procure trains from other services or reallocate them. One thing Harry, who was brilliant on your previous call didn’t mention was that they are not scheduling enough services. The time the kids really want to come in from Church Stretton, Leominster, Cwmbran in the South; they’re not getting the services on the line so that’s a further problem. I think that students and teachers will understand a temporary delay but they have to know there’s a plan to deliver for them, and that’s why I’ve escalated this.
E: OK, good to know you’re on it Jesse Norman, thank you very much.