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Arriva Trains wales blame falling leaves for reduced services on Valleys lines

Apology Letter Regarding Fleet Shortages, October 2014

Dear Customer,

We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to our customers for any journeys you have made with us recently where the number of carriages we have provided has been fewer than normal. We’re also mindful that in some instances it has been necessary for a different type of train to be provided in order to avoid cancelling the service and this has meant that you haven’t experienced the usual standards of comfort on longer distance journeys. Our staff on the ground have been feeding back customer experiences from onboard the train and comments raised on our Twitter feed have also highlighted to us how frustrating this is for you.

A number of unrelated incidents have meant that we have been unable to deliver all our fleet at the right time and in the right place. Some of these issues have been caused by freight trains breaking down on our Cardiff to Manchester / Holyhead routes and this extensive disruption has led to us needing to re-start services with another train to avoid them being completely cancelled. The only way we can do this is by taking capacity from other local services, which then reduces the overall number of carriages allocated to each service. The disruption has also led to some trains finishing the day in a different location meaning they’re not in the right place the next morning and this affects the number of carriages and type of train that we can deliver at peak times.

In addition we have been unable to deliver all our trains to passenger services due to a combination of urgent maintenance or repairs to our fleet. Two of our Class 175 trains (used on longer distance routes) have been out of service for a number of weeks, one due to striking a tree on the line, but both these trains will be back in service from 03 November, greatly assisting capacity and comfort on longer distance journeys.

We have also had several services affected by low rail adhesion, which is caused by the leaf fall season when leaves are crushed onto the railhead making them slippery, and the majority of these trains operate our busiest services on the Cardiff local routes & Valley lines. This can cause the train to slide along the rails when the brakes are applied and result in damage to the wheels. If this arises we may have to take the affected carriages out of service to avoid damage to the track and further damage to the wheels. We then carry out the repairs as quickly as possible by ‘turning’ the wheels on a wheel lathe in order to get the train back into service, but in the meantime this will mean that some services run with fewer carriages than normal.

Please be assured that we are working hard on finding ways to reduce instances of us being unable to provide the required number of trains for service each day and we will keep you updated on our action plan.

Our apologies again for the frustrations you have been caused and we thank you for your patience in the interim.

Lynne Milligan, Customer Services Director

Matt Prosser, Engineering Director