Pwyllgor Newid Hinsawdd, yr Amgylchedd a Seilwaith

Climate Change, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee

13/12/2023

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Delyth Jewell
Huw Irranca-Davies
Janet Finch-Saunders
Jenny Rathbone
Joyce Watson
Luke Fletcher Dirprwyo ar ran Llyr Gruffydd
Substitute for Llyr Gruffydd

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Julie James Y Gweinidog Newid Hinsawdd
Minister for Climate Change
Peter McDonald Llywodraeth Cymru
Welsh Government
Ruth Conway Llywodraeth Cymru
Welsh Government

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Andrew Minnis Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Chloe Corbyn Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Elizabeth Wilkinson Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Lukas Evans Santos Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Marc Wyn Jones Clerc
Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor yn y Senedd.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:30.

The committee met in the Senedd.

The meeting began at 09:30.

Penodi Cadeirydd dros dro
Appointment of temporary Chair

Bore da. Nid yw'r Cadeirydd yn gallu mynychu'r cyfarfod heddiw, felly, yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.22, rydw i'n galw am enwebiadau ar gyfer Cadeirydd dros dro tan ddiwedd y cyfarfod heddiw.

Good morning. The Chair is unable to attend today's meeting, so, in accordance with Standing Order 17.22, I call for nominations for a temporary Chair until the end of today's meeting.

Diolch yn fawr. Rydw i'n datgan, felly, mai Delyth Jewell sydd wedi ei phenodi'n Gadeirydd dros dro.

Thank you very much. I therefore declare that Delyth Jewell has been appointed temporary Chair.

Penodwyd Delyth Jewell yn Gadeirydd dros dro

Delyth Jewell was appointed temporary Chair

1. Cyflwyniadau, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions, and declarations of interest

Croeso, bawb, i'r cyfarfod hwn o'r Pwyllgor Newid Hinsawdd, yr Amgylchedd a Seilwaith. A oes gan unrhyw Aelodau, yn gyntaf, fuddiannau i'w datgan? Dwi ddim yn gweld bod. Rŷn ni wedi cael ymddiheuriadau gan Llyr Gruffydd. Bydd Luke Fletcher yma yn ei le yn dirprwyo. Fe wnawn ni symud yn syth ymlaen. Bore da a chroeso i unrhyw un sydd yn ein gwylio ni'n fyw.

Welcome, everyone, to this meeting of the Climate Change, Environment and Infrastructure Committee. Do Members have any declarations of interest? I don't see that there are any. We've received apologies from Llyr Gruffydd and Luke Fletcher is here substituting. So, we'll move straight on, and good morning to anyone who is watching us live.

2. Craffu ar drafnidiaeth gyda'r Gweinidog Newid Hinsawdd
2. Transport scrutiny with the Minister for Climate Change

Eitem 2 y bore yma yw gwaith craffu cyffredinol ar drafnidiaeth gyda'r Gweinidog. Fe wna i ofyn i'r tystion gyflwyno eu hunain ar gyfer y record. Fe wna i fynd at y Gweinidog.

Item 2 this morning is transport general scrutiny with the Minister. I'll ask the witnesses to introduce themselves for the record. I'll go to the Minister first.

Bore da. It's very nice to be here, Cadeirydd. I've got with me Peter McDonald, who is the director of transport—I think that's your official title. Do you want to introduce yourself, Ruth? I've forgotten your title—apologies. 

Ruth Conway, deputy director for public and integrated transport. Good morning.

Thank you so much. If it's all right with all of you, we will go straight into questions. Thank you so much. Our first question is from Janet.

Thank you. Good morning, Minister. Given recent poor performance, overspending and general issues around Transport for Wales infrastructure projects, do you still have confidence in TfW’s ability to deliver our rail service?

Thank you, Janet. I think this is what sounds like an easy question disguising quite a complicated set of circumstances, which started from the way that we took over the rail franchise in the first place, followed shortly after by the pandemic and then the difference in the forecasting ability of the Welsh Government affecting the ability of TfW to be able to do things like procure new rolling stock and so on. I think, if you don't mind, Chair, I'm going to ask Peter to just give us a short understanding of why we're in that situation, and then I will be able to address, Janet, what we're doing to get back out the other side.

Sure. What I would say is that, in the railway industry that we have in Great Britain, if you want to run a reliable and punctual service, the best thing to do is to not change any of the rolling stock and to not invest in any infrastructure, if you want to have a resilient service in the short term. If you want to have a resilient service in the long term, you need to do both those things. The problem is that they bring disruption. In very broad terms, we are at the point of peak disruption here, whereby we are making changes to nearly every element of rolling stock. We are doing a significant infrastructure project in the Valleys and it is being done in the wake of the pandemic in a period of very high inflation, during a period of exceptional squeezes on public spending, and it is very true that that is causing some significant challenges.

We do take some positives from how rail performance was improving until recently. We had three periods of positive growth in the late summer and early autumn where new rolling stock was coming on stream on a pretty regular basis. As more and more of that new rolling stock is introduced into the system, we are seeing the benefits in performance. It is true that we've taken a recent knock this autumn, and that is something I suspect the committee will want to get into later. You've talked to Transport for Wales about this recently and there are reasonable actions under way to resolve that. We are certainly expecting that, from January, we are back on that trajectory that I've described was in place in the late summer and early autumn. If we were to deviate from that trajectory, I think it's fair to raise questions, but with every week and month that we get additional rolling stock from those factories, they are going straight into the systems.

It is also true to say that in the railway industry—this is industry-wide, this is not Wales-specific—there are a number of teething problems that happen when you bring new rolling stock onto the system. But Transport for Wales are learning a lot about these new trains, and that is starting to come through into how they operate them. Generally, what you get with rolling stock is that the reliability statistics go up the longer they are in operation. I think James Price talked about this at his evidence session—I read his transcript. So, we are at a difficult period now, and if it weren't for the new rolling stock coming on stream, it would be a very different position, but they are continuing to come out of the factories, and as we get them onto the network, they will make a real difference.

09:35

Thank you, Peter. I think Janet wanted to ask something.

Yes, just a supplementary on that. On the longer routes, the four-hour routes, north to south and vice versa, we were really excited about the new rolling stock coming online. What we didn't know was that the 175s were being taken and put away somewhere. There are quite a few parked up by Crewe. So, whilst we've gained with new stock, we've lost the 175s. The 150s are still running. But it just worries me that we do—. This summer has been the worst I've ever known for the north-to-south journey and vice versa. Could we not have been more clear with passengers and, indeed, us as politicians that, as the new stock was coming in, the 175s were being taken out of stock? Because really we're not that much better off at the moment.

I think that's a very fair point about storytelling to passengers, and we shouldn't underestimate the degree to which passengers take a very specific interest in these things. I think in this role I've been continually surprised how much individual passengers know about the type of train that they are on and the difference it makes to their lives. Certainly, one thing that we often challenge Transport for Wales on is, yes, there is a narrative about 'Things will get better', but until you put out a forward-looking yardstick, it's very difficult for the Welsh Government or a passenger body to hold Transport for Wales to account for 'Are you hitting that yardstick?' So, we all agree we're in a difficult place now, we all agree it will get better, but we need a means to scrutinise. 

For example, I was talking to Transport for Wales only yesterday about the proportion of longer trains that will be seen on the Marches line, and they have a positive forecast. That's something that I'm not sure should just be an internal document. That's a story that passengers would want to hear, and it's a story that they need to hear, because if we cannot maintain the confidence in the passenger—and I would agree we're at a difficult juncture—then that impacts on the farebox. And the greater the impact on the farebox, the greater the impact on the rest of the Welsh Government budget, all things being equal, and I suspect we'll get on to the funding model in due course. 

Just on that as well, Janet, there have been a series of issues that will make people cynical. So it is, as Peter says, about the storytelling, but it is about how you get the storytelling across that doesn't make people cynical. The new trains, for example, have had some real problems with their wheels as a result of the autumn storms that we've had. We don't want a, 'There are leaves on the line, the trains can't run' kind of story going out. What we need to do is to talk to the manufacturers about whether there's something wrong with the train or whether, as Peter says, it's something about the way that they operate, the way that they're driven, and what can we do about it. But we obviously weren't expecting that.

So, we've hit a real perfect storm in the number of individual trains right across Wales that have a problem, all of which are completely understandable in and of themselves, but cumulatively are causing a really big problem. In each individual instance, you think, 'Oh well, that's fair enough', but the cumulative impact is bad, and the cumulative impact is bad because we don't have enough rolling stock in reserve to be able to take up the slack. In lay people's terms, you have to understand that, at any one point in time, you've got trains being repaired or being serviced, or whatever. We don't have enough. So, the trajectory is about getting enough in place while we, frankly, completely replace the rolling stock. It was in a terrible state when we took it over. I do think it's important to understand how bad the rolling stock we took over was. So, as Peter says, we could have just tried to limp on in that way, but actually we would have got to catastrophic failure at some point.

And, anyway, the whole point of this is to get a system in place that means that people are pleased to travel on the train and it's a nice experience, so you go out and tell five other people how good an experience it was, not that you tell everybody, 'For God's sake, that was the worst thing that's ever happened to me, don't bother with the trains.' That's a disaster, isn't it? So, if you think of it in those terms and how we tell that story without the cynicism that goes through some of those narratives, it's not easy to do, to hit the right note on some of that. 

Thank you. I was just going to add to that that politicians are very good at getting their message across, and maybe TfW, if they could up their communication levels, I think it might just help some of the angst. 

Now, could you provide details of discussions with TfW on its review of longer term timetable commitments and its impact on passengers?

We spend an enormous amount of time with TfW. I'm going to let Peter tell you about the internal discussions, but as part of my management team, we also get the head of TfW and the head of Natural Resources Wales to actually come to the management team so that we have a better understanding across the portfolio of what's going on. That's done deliberately, so that they can understand the context, if you like, of the discussions that are being had at Peter's level. Peter, do you want to talk about that?

09:40

Sure. Again, just going back to the industry context, it is traditional—rightly or wrongly—for a rail operating company to bid for a franchise, get the franchise and then run it; it is not traditional for there to be a period of reflection and adaptation during the franchise period. And that reflects that the rail industry is traditionally quite a long-term industry, but what we've had is a pandemic and we've had a very large number of moving parts. So, what we have been working with Transport for Wales on is, given that passenger patterns have changed quite significantly—and I know this is something the committee has looked at recently—are we using the limited rolling stock we have in the best places in order to maximise overall the right customer experience. Again, this is something that is countercultural in rail. I'm not saying that's a good thing; I'm just saying it's the context. So, we are reflecting on whether we should—and it's more evolution than revolution—move around some rolling stock, ensure we're not overambitious on some rail uplifts, and can we find a more efficient way to use the limited rolling stock we have, which may involve running a greater number of services, for example, on the weekend, given that we're seeing more tourism and leisure travel. So, that's kind of the period of reflection that we're in.

There's a bit more to it than that as well, I think, which I'd really like the committee to understand. Passenger numbers are recovering on the railway, but they're recovering in a different pattern. So, we are going to have to look quite comprehensively at the sort of traditional way of doing it, including the fares. You'll all know that it's more expensive to travel in commuter time, but people aren't travelling in commuter time, they're travelling in different times. So, we're going to have to have a pretty comprehensive long-term look at whether the pattern that has changed since the pandemic will hold—in which case, we need to review the fare structure and the rolling stock numbers and all of the pattern of the railway—or whether it's a blip and it will return. It doesn't look like it's returning at the moment. These things are difficult to calibrate. You have to do a little bit of future gazing to try and get it. And it's not easy to do. You can't decide to do that on Tuesday, realise that on Tuesday it didn't work and change it on Wednesday; it's not responsive in that way, it's a much longer term thing. So, you have to hold your nerve a little bit and you have to try and calibrate it over that longer period of time. We will get there and I have very much confidence in TfW in being able to get there, because they are showing the versatility of thought that you wouldn't have got previously in doing this. And it's been really beneficial that we've been able to have this level of engagement with them. But it's not simple, it's not an easy fix, and I think that's the big message, really.

Diolch. Fe wnawn ni symud ymlaen at Luke.

Thank you. We'll move on to Luke.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. I've sat here listening to how things are going to get better, and I've heard the same since my election in 2021, and I heard that prior to my election in 2021 as well. With all due respect, I think the Government's starting to sound a bit like Del Boy. I can picture it now: 'This time next year, Rodney, we're going to have trains that run on time, we're going to have more trains.' But the reality is that confidence has completely eroded amongst the public. I'm just thinking of my own experiences now. I catch a train on a daily basis, and I don't think I've had a train that's run on time for a good few months now. I mean, we talk about storytelling, trying to bring those people back into having confidence in the train service, but if the story doesn't match up with reality, then it's not going to work, is it?

You're absolutely right, Luke. As Peter said, this is sort of peak disruption. I absolutely understand your cynicism on that, but we have to hold our nerve, because we have to get the rolling stock to come out of the factories and onto the lines, we have to keep hold of the staff and we have to calibrate the timetable. There isn't an alternative to that. I absolutely agree we're not where we want to be. The farebox is interesting, actually, because the numbers have been coming back, despite the disruption. What we hope very much is that, once we've got through this worst bit, which is over the next five weeks, and we've got the rolling stock coming out of the factories, we're able to increase the services on some lines. We've already said that we're going to do the Wrexham to Bidston line, and the Chester to Liverpool line will increase in services, for example. We're doing some stuff in Ebbw Vale. So, hopefully—and I acknowledge your cynicism—hopefully, that rolling stock will arrive on time from the factories. We'll hold their feet to the fire to make sure that that happens. It's not entirely 100 per cent in our gift, but let's hope the rolling stock continues to arrive, and then we will see. And when we come back in front of the committee in January or February, hopefully you'll be able to see that improvement. If you're not seeing that improvement at that point, then we will know from TfW exactly what the situation is.

Honestly, we're into this in a granular—. I had no idea that I needed to know this much about trains. Seriously, we're into this on a very granular level about what exactly is happening on these lines, and where is this rolling stock, and why is it like that. And it's complicated, because we've also had the industrial disputes. We had no industrial disputes in Wales, but the industrial disputes affected where the trains were and where the drivers were and what the other services were, and actually the disruption was quite extreme, even though we weren't in dispute with the unions. It's not looking good on the dispute front, either, across the border. So, it's difficult to calibrate, but I appreciate where you're coming from, absolutely, and I guess that's why we need to tell the story, isn't it, because people are rightly cynical if they've had the most terrible—. I don't travel on the train very often, but members of my family do, and, believe me, they are vocal about the experience. So, we need that experience to get better. I have very recently travelled on one of the new trains. It just happened to be one going between the two places I was travelling between. That was a very lovely experience, and people on the train were actually talking about what a lovely experience it was. So, if we can get there, we can get that confidence back, but you're right in what you're saying; I'm not arguing with that.

09:45

I think it's true that when they are running, there's nothing better. Like I said, I catch them every single day and, actually, it's really handy when I'm coming to the Senedd, especially for committee, to be able to have a quick peruse through the committee papers before getting into the Senedd. It's important we get this right. I think if we stick with the storytelling theme, what can we then say to constituents about the time frame for things to get better? What is the expected time frame?

Over the next month to three months, we've got a whole series of plans for rolling out the rolling stock—forgive me for the pun—and for some other timetable improvements. So, there are specific ones, which Peter can go through, if you like, and then we'll be looking again at things like the farebox and so on. This has to be calibrated. I don't have a magic money tree, so we need the people to come back onto the railway to give us the money to invest, because otherwise the subsidy just gets higher for a lower service. So, it's absolutely in our interest to give people the best possible experience, so that they go out and tell people that and more people come onto the railway. The more people that travel, the more money we have to invest in making the service better—that's the bottom line. The fewer people that travel, weirdly the more money the Government has to put in but has less money to actually invest, because you're just trying to keep it running. So, it's a really obvious calibration: customer satisfaction brings increased investment. We have to tell that story, and we have to deliver it in order to get those customers back in. Otherwise, frankly, the Government will be paying more for a worse service, which is obviously not where any of us want to be. Peter, do you want to talk about any of the specific things that we've got planned over the next month or so?

I'm not sure we need to get into the specifics, but if I could just pick up the general point that what we're challenging TfW mostly at the moment on, in addition to general operational performance, is communication. That's actually what we very often talk to them about, and if the Deputy Minister were here, he would certainly say that he challenges them very frequently. What we're trying to get TfW to do is to be very candid with passengers, because passengers can see and look and feel exactly what's happening. You can't fool a passenger, because they're in the here and now, and what people want is the honest candour about where those services are, and the more that they hear from the chief executive and the executive team, we think that is better. We're encouraging more of that. You will have seen the chief executive do a large amount of media at the time, when funding was arranged. I think you'll continue to see more of that, and we're also discussing how we can put out some more information not about, necessarily, timetables, because that's traditionally set out, but the availability of new rolling stock, because that is something that the rail industry does not traditionally set out. I think we need to probably create some form of mechanism to tell people about when they're going to see it and where it's going to be, because it's going to be in different parts of Wales at different times. Certainly, what we are seeing is, when it does come in, we are getting a higher number of passengers, which is kind of a good sign. 

09:50

I think that candid honesty will be appreciated by a lot of people. I'm just thinking now of the train that both Huw and I are normally on, which is the Maesteg train. A lot of the time, it gets terminated at Tondu, leaving the Llynfi valley completely cut off. So, you can imagine there's nothing more frustrating for those people living in the Llynfi valley—that they turn up at the train station to get their train to work, and they arrive and it's cancelled, and they have no way of getting down the valley. 

I'm conscious of time, Chair, so I'll move on to my final question, because I think all this is most acute when we look at major events. Now, my colleague Llyr Gruffydd, who normally chairs this committee, has mentioned that link between north Wales and south Wales when there's football on. I can talk about that experience when the rugby's on, where I and friends are looking to catch the train from Pencoed. The train will arrive—it's once an hour—and we're lucky if we can get on there, and that's before it's even got into Llanharan and Pontyclun. And I can't tell you the amount of times where we've gone to Llanharan or Pontyclun and people have been left on the platform. You've got to wait another hour, then, to get to the game in Cardiff. So, what sort of steps have been taken here around increasing provision specifically on days of large events, and not just the rugby, but even when things like, I don't know, Beyonce is in Cardiff? That puts massive pressure on the system as well. So, what exactly has been done to improve provision on those days?

There are a couple of things that I'd just say as an overarching thing. Peter can talk about some of the very specific things. So, there are three things with major events. So, first of all, the stadium in Cardiff is in the middle of the city, which brings its own issues. All stadia in the middle of every city in the world have the same issues as that. The second thing is we don't want to remove services from elsewhere in Wales because there's a big event going on somewhere, and we don't have sufficient rolling stock at the moment. So, trying to calibrate that at a point in time where we don't have sufficient rolling stock is more difficult. And the third thing is leaving. You're talking about arriving, but leaving, it is inevitable that, with thousands of people wanting to travel at the same time, there will be queuing. We can't let all those people onto platforms. So, what we'll have to do is calibrate that in a way that makes the queue as pleasant as possible and it moves in a reasonable fashion. But the idea that we could get 60,000 people onto a platform is just for the birds; that's just never, ever going to be the case. So, those are the three overarching issues that we have at the moment. So, not ideal. But I'll let Peter talk about some of the specific things that we're looking to do. 

So, actually, the answer's quite similar to what we've discussed previously, because it comes back, primarily, to the availability of rolling stock. And the golden metric that, certainly, TfW uses is the availability ratio, because you will never have all of your rolling stock in service at any one point. Things will be in for repair, for servicing, et cetera, et cetera. And you need that margin to be able to run a reliable service. Now, at the moment, we are constrained on availability, for the reasons that we discussed. But as more rolling stock comes onstream, then you start to get the flex to be able to react more to the major events. So, the story's actually a similar one. But as the Minister says, there is always a risk of robbing Peter to pay Paul in this, especially as it can be quite disruptive on the railway to put special arrangements in place for one day; they take a long time to unwind, because you have trains in different places, with different crew, in different depots.

So, in parallel to working on the general availability of rolling stock, we're also working with TfW on whether they could run more coach services in addition to trains, because you can be much more flexible on a coach service. And this is one of the arguments for the so-called TfW 2.0—the more multimodal approach. We should be relatively agnostic on how we move people between different places. The most important thing is that they're able to travel at the kind of time they need to travel. And we can be much more flexible on the coach service. Now, that's an administrative challenge for us, because TfW is not necessarily established to do this quite yet. But if we can provide funding in a more flexible way, if we could ensure they have the right powers to do this, then this is, potentially, a new tool in the toolbox. And I think we should expect that that additional tool is necessary even when we're at the point of all the new rolling stock onstream, for some of the constraints that the Minister just described.

09:55

And, fairly briefly, how will the plans around cancelling the major-events stabling line at Llanwern affect some of that provision and planning around major events?

I'm not expecting a significant impact, and that is primarily the reason why that scheme was cancelled, because the benefits were not sufficient to merit the costs. So, that's why the decision was made. TfW have found alternative ways to deliver a lower cost solution through more creative use of Canton and the Barry sidings, and the combination of that and new rolling stock, we think, is a better and least cost approach. We haven't talked about the budget yet, significantly, but the link between—

Of course. The link between all of this and the money is intrinsic.

The last thing I'll say on that as well, though, is that it was clear from, if you remember, last summer—or was it the summer before; my time sense is terrible?—as there were two or three big events in Cardiff, one after the other. That's awful, because then the trains are all in the wrong place. So, it's working with the various event venues to try and make sure that we understand, at the earliest opportunity, the likely cumulative impact of that—I think there was a pop concert, a large match and some other event, one after the other. That is clearly problematic. So, working with the event organisers, for them to understand the impact of that on the travelling public and how that's going to work has also been a really big deal. So, that's something we've asked TfW to do as well.

If I could, just very briefly—

There's one further intervention we are currently working on, and this is happening—this is not a concept plan—which is a series of upgrades to Cardiff Central station, which will also help capacity, albeit just in the city centre.

Thank you so much. Well, you mentioned budget. We're going to move on now to Joyce.

We are, and we're not going to make much progress at this rate either. So, there's £125 million extra funding for Transport for Wales, and it's already been provided. So, how much additional support do you anticipate they might require in future years? And if that is reduced as a consequence of the crash of the economy by Tories, what won't be delivered that you were hoping to deliver?

So, the budget’s, obviously, been an exceptionally difficult set of circumstances. For rail in particular, this has been an issue ever since the pandemic hit. So, the current budget difficulty is not the first time that rail has been involved in this. In fact, I recently said to the First Minister that I had about eight halcyon weeks in post after the last election before I realised that I was just going to spend all of my time talking about rail budgets. That's because we've done something unique in Wales—we've nationalised the railway, but we also took responsibility for the core Valleys lines network, the actual infrastructure. Network Rail is not responsible for that; they are responsible for everything else, but they're not responsible for that. So, that means there's a particular set of investments and opportunities that we want to be able to do, and TfW is not a private company, so they can't raise money in the way private companies could. So, they're reliant on us to be able to facilitate them to get their farebox up enough for us to free up enough money to invest, and for us to have a plan in place to invest.

Our plan to invest was very much based on passenger numbers before the pandemic. There's not getting away from that. And those passenger numbers were severely disrupted, both during the pandemic, when, obviously, they stopped altogether for a time, but then didn't recover, and then have recovered differently, as we've already discussed. There's no getting away from the impact that that has on the budget, because the farebox—. The cost of the railway is £550 million-ish. The farebox is around £200-250 million. The difference is what we have to give them, and that difference can vary considerably. So, that's very top of the line. Peter will give you more detail if you want it.

So, we really need to make sure that, on the investment that we put in place, we basically hold our nerve. So, we keep the investment going in order to get that farebox up. Because if we don't do that, we will, absolutely and inexorably, end up paying more for a worse railway. So, paying more is inevitable. We're either paying more for a better railway, or we're paying more for a worse railway. Those are the two options. There isn't an option of 'don't pay more', unless we shut the whole railway down, which quite clearly isn't an option. So, I do think getting your head around the basics of that is one of the first things you have to do.

So, we've had to provide the funding upfront, both capital funding for the core Valleys lines, which was the first budget problem we had, going back—as I say, my time sense is terrible—to 2021, before Peter joined actually. I think, when he joined, he had a bit of a crash course in where we'd been so far. We had to sort out the core Valleys lines investment, because without that, we cannot get all the things Luke's just been talking about; we can't do that. You can see that happening; you can see it happening on the ground, as the lines are worked on. They're not there yet, but you can see the hoardings and all the rest of it going up everywhere.

We solved some of the capital problems, but that capital problem was spread out over a number of years, because of the Government's accounting practices, in my budget, and then we hit this. So, then we get the cost-of-living crisis and then we get to where we are now. So, that's carried across. The 'pressure', with the terminology we use, has carried across in my budget, all the way through. And, of course, when we first profiled that, we thought that the pressure would diminish, because we weren't expecting an enormous inflationary hit from the Liz Truss catastrophe. And then, of course, we weren't expecting all of the other things that have happened—the increase in borrowing costs and all the rest of it. We've had to calibrate that, and we've managed to do that. We absolutely have managed to do that. But the uplift is not as much as they need, let's just be really clear. So, we're still looking for other ways to increase that. There's still a pressure in my budget, as it's called, as we try to increase that; we need to get that farebox up, to make sure that we can manage that. And inevitably, it's reverberated across the rest of the portfolio, because that's how the Government works.

So, the cuts in some parts of my portfolio are bigger than they are elsewhere in the Government, because of the rail pressure. But we've also tried to contain it inside the transport budget, as much as possible, and that is having other knock-on effects. This is a very complicated piece of work, and I'm sure we'll have budget scrutiny in some depth on this, but it's been a complex series of things to be able to do, to be able to do it. So, the headline figure has been very helpful, but it isn't the whole of the picture, and Peter can go into any amount of detail you like, Chair.

10:00

Before he does, can I ask the next question? Sorry, Chair.

Before he does. You've mentioned the capital investment, and it was £3.5 million of capital investment, and it was released, and I quote,

'from a range of uncommitted transport schemes.'

So, if we could sort of understand that, that would be useful. You also mentioned the pressures that the cost of delivering rail transport has across your portfolio, so if we can understand those two things, it would be very useful.

Yes, okay. So, there are some quite complicated things going on there. Some of it is reprofiling, as we call it. So, we're moving schemes; we're not stopping them, we're moving them into future years. We're doing that, usually, not because the money isn't—. Not because we can't spend—. It's because we can't spend the money in this year, sorry. All the right words, not necessarily in the right order. It's because the schemes couldn't have gone ahead this year for a range of reasons—supply, you know, all the rest of it. Or they're no longer needed, because we've actually changed the profile of some of the things that we're doing on the railway, and so we move them into future years. That's called reprofiling. Basically, we make—this happens all over the Government—a deal with the centre that we'll give money back this year, if they give it back to us next year, effectively. So, some of it's reprofiling, Joyce.

Some of it is cancelling some stuff. We have cancelled some of the things that we were going to do. There have been some knock-on effects into bus, which Ruth will be ready to talk about, when you need her to, and then we've got slower delivery of things like active travel. This has happened right across my portfolio. We've tried very hard not to stop things, but what we've done is slow them down. So, for example, some of the biodiversity and nature projects would have had five rounds of funding and they've got three. It's that kind of thing. We haven't taken any of the programmes away, in the hope that, when there are better times to come, we can ramp them back up again. But we've slowed them down. So, lots of things like active travel grants and so on have been slowed down. I think the specific budget expenditure line is the active travel pathfinder and towns project, and then there's £0.5 million for maintaining, effectively, vacancies across that portfolio, inside the teams. So, you can see what we've tried to do: we've tried to calibrate it accordingly and then cut the budgets. And we've done that. That wouldn't just be in travel, that's right across the whole portfolio. I don't know, Peter, if you wanted to add any specifics.

10:05

I think, on the £3.5 million specifically, that is a large number of small things, rather than one individual big thing, and the vast majority of that is reprofiling—so, as the Minister said, doing it over a different time period. And £3.5 million is a pretty small proportion of our total capital, in the grand scheme of things. The broader story, on the core Valleys lines, is, as you'll be aware, that the cost estimate increased, as all infrastructure cost estimates have increased recently, especially on rail. I'm not saying that's right, I'm just saying it's not a Wales-specific story. And that has required reprioritisation within transport. But if you look back the last 10, 15 years, the amount of capital in transport has actually been relatively constant, but what changes is the composition within it. And what we will be doing is we're going to have a relatively higher proportion of that on rail and infrastructure investment, on the capital side, in order to finish the CVL, to see it through. Because the design spec has not deviated. We've made a strategic decision to stick with the investment, to get the benefits. But it's going to mean that it takes up a relatively higher proportion of the transport capital budget. And then there's an interesting question for the next spending review, about where should the focus of transport capital spending be.

Diolch. Fe wnawn ni symud ymlaen at Luke, eto.

Thank you. We'll move on to Luke, again

Diolch, Gadeirydd. Just one quick one from me, really. James Price mentioned to the committee in his session that one of the reasons that extra funding is needed is because revenue hasn't been in line with the original forecast, and at the same time then saying that, again, excess demand is one of his primary problems. At what point do you think then that TfW will be in line with its original revenue forecast?

So, as Peter's already said, Luke, what we've got to do is try and recalibrate it. We've got to try and redo the forecast based on what we now know about passenger numbers, and, indeed, what we now know about capital costs. We spend a lot of time trying to bring these projects in on time and to budget—that's obviously increasingly difficult with capital schemes. But 'on budget' means 'on budget, given the inflation increase', not other increases in the budget. And then, for passenger numbers, you're absolutely right. Interestingly, on some trains, we've been leaving people behind because the passenger numbers have increased so much. It's about trying to calibrate that, isn't it? As Peter just said, it's about trying to forecast that in a reasonable way, and calibrate the rolling stock accordingly, and then, obviously, to try and get the rolling stock in. We're absolutely upfront in saying that we don't have enough. So, we're trying to get it in as fast as we can, and then deploy it using the best forecasting ability of all of the people involved in this, so that they know where the passenger numbers are. It's also a little bit where we're trying to encourage passenger number growth, you can imagine. We want some lines to grow, so you'll be encouraging capacity on that line, so that people do report that they've had a lovely time and more people think it's worth giving it a shot. It's not just about meeting current capacity; it is about where do you want to grow that capacity. We need that farebox to come up, so we want that experience to be as good as possible. We certainly don't want people left behind who would otherwise have been fare-paying passengers. So, you can see the calibration. This is a real arcane art and we have people who are very seriously professional in doing this. Peter knows far more about it than I.

I should also say that it's an uncertain science: there's not a wide evidence base out there for what happens to demand if you change all of the trains all at the same time. Now, in one sense, it is deeply disappointing, especially for those particular passengers, to have this over-demand, but, in an other sense, it is empirical justification that shows that what was written in the business case is true, which is that, if you can provide a better service, people will come to use it.

We are at a really difficult point in the dynamics of cost and revenue. So, I spoke about capital, but on the revenue side, you have to pay all the costs of the trains upfront; you have to recruit the drivers 12 to 18 months in advance, and train them; you have to lease all of the trains; you have to hedge all of the fuel. These are fixed costs that you have to incur well before you run the services and certainly before you get demand up on them. And then, when you run a new service, people using it, they are people of habit, and it takes time for habits to change. You’re not going to immediately get, on day one of that service, the full demand. You tend to see demand grow over time. But we are at the point in the budget where we are funding the vast majority of the costs of the new services and yet they’re not all on stream, and certainly demand has not caught up from them.

So, from a financial perspective, we're at the point of maximum gap at the moment, and as the Minister said, to use your phrase, the strategic decision is to hold our nerve, because we have paid the cost, and the best way in terms of value to the taxpayer is to see it through to get the farebox benefit. But these two curves, they are opposite from one another, and they do close, but it takes time for them to close, and the gap is what we have to fund.

10:10

Generally speaking, then, in terms of commercial revenues, how are TfW then looking to increase commercial revenues across—well, not just in the farebox?

We hold their feet to the fire about that all the time. Even there it’s not as straightforward as you’d like. We have this conversation all the time. If you’re letting franchises for coffee shops and so on on the lines and so on, they can get the biggest price from the biggest global conglomerates. That’s not always the outcome we want, so we’re driving a cost base here, but sometimes we don’t want the outcomes of the costs conversation. So, we hold their feet to the fire very much, but it is fair to say we do sometimes constrain them as well, because we want other social outcomes as a result of that. Again, I’m afraid, this is this calibration, isn’t it, between getting the maximum amount of money in and also getting the best social response out of the railway. I won’t name any of the global conglomerates in question, but you can immediately see what I mean, and so we might be pushing TfW to let franchising for coffee and so on to local businesses, which over the longer term might have more economic impact, but which absolutely affect their bottom line immediately, and so we have to calibrate that as well. Those decisions are difficult, there’s no doubt about it. But James Price comes to my management team and he listens to the misery around the table from other budget holders, and we want them to be very much part of understanding what this looks like across the Government, and take their part in making sure that we deliver both the best service we can, but for the least price given where we are in the budget cycle. 

How content are you, Minister, with the current approach to passenger compensation? Now, the reason I'm raising this—well, it's on the sheet, but also, I have to be honest, I get very concerned as a businesswoman when I'm sat there and the train's gone 16 minutes over, and we're told, 'Anything over 15 minutes you can claim compensation.' You can have a very problematic journey where you're very late, or you've had no air conditioning. You know, a really bad journey, with a bit of a delay, and I just think that, whilst we all moan if we have a bad journey, I do think that advertising the fact that you can claim compensation if a train is 15 minutes late is not—. At the end of the day, if you're an hour late, or—. It's a bit like flying, isn't it? There's a certain time when you think, 'I would expect compensation', but I have to be honest, I think it would be quite unreasonable. And when I've written in and done freedom of information requests, I am aghast at the amount of compensation we pay out. That's technically taxpayers' money—money that could be going towards helping Transport for Wales. I'm not saying there shouldn't be any compensation, because people can miss a job—I've seen all sorts. But I do think the 15 minutes is rather scary, because with the best will in the world, with our weather conditions, inclement, more rain, more leaves on the track, you name it, blah-di-blah, I do think we need a more sensible business approach to it.

I guess, Janet, we could have a look at whether the 15 minutes is the most appropriate. I'm certainly happy, if the committee wants us to, to have a look at that. I will say, though, I've also watched James Price’s evidence to the committee. I do just want to say that this isn’t about penalising TfW for delay and incentivising them not to do it; it is actually about compensating passengers whose day might be severely disrupted. The 15 minutes is the period of time in which you might need to change trains or be late for an important, you know, whatever. It is claimed, as well. Not everybody claims it, that’s for sure. People who claim it tend to be pretty cross. So, I’m happy to have a look at it.

I'm happy to look at it again in terms of whether the amount of time is right. But I just want to be really clear. This isn't about incentivising TfW by fining them to do a better job. This is genuinely about compensating the passenger who's had a very bad experience and has a personal need for that compensation. And we have much better, other ways of incentivising TfW to do better and hold them to account in a much more robust way. I just want to be really clear, because James, I think, in his evidence was slightly giving the impression that it was about trying to get them to do better. That isn't how we see it. We see it as, you know, fairly compensating a passenger who's had a pretty bloody awful experience and needs that compensation. So, I do think there's a difference. I'm happy to look again at whether 15 minutes is the right amount of time. 

10:15

Yes. And if you could look, Minister, more at the—. If you're having a bad journey and the conductors know it's a really bad journey they're quick to say, when really, people just, you know—. It's not always the delay. They're annoyed because they can't go to the toilet, there's no trolley on board; there are other reasons that build up when you're on a long journey. 

Okay. Diolch, Janet. I've got Huw and Jenny wanting to come in. Huw.

It is an interesting area, Minister—my apologies if you've covered what I'm going to ask already, but—the 15 minutes is an interesting thing to look at. But the other interesting thing is compensation if a rail operator fails to get you to your destination. Now that could either be because of failure to make the connection because of delay or—and you've probably seen this in the earlier sessions that we've done—where people are dumped in the middle of nowhere. It's not acceptable. That is more of an impediment than a 10- or 15-minute delay. It's annoying, 10 or 15 minutes, but, if I get to Cardiff, I get to Cardiff. Being dumped in the middle of nowhere with no replacement service, you're damn right, I should be—and all my constituents should be—compensated, but, more than that, the money should not be going into compensation, it should be going into getting them there by taxi, by—. If it's been covered already—. But I think this use of money is an interesting point. 

No, it's a fair point, Huw. I think we can—. I'm very happy to look again at whether the compensation system works effectively, but I do genuinely want to say: this is not about incentivising or fining TfW to do better, we have much better ways to do that. This is genuinely about trying to give some payback to a customer who's had a very bad experience, not least because we want that customer to return—I mean, I can't emphasise that enough. But, I think, we're very happy if the committee wants to include in a letter to us, or in a recommendation, that we have a look at it, I'm very happy to have a look at it again. 

I'm very pleased to hear that.

So, moving on. In the spring we were told about the core Valleys lines having a £306 million shortfall, and the Deputy Minister initially told us that you were hoping to manage the increased cost through your usual financial management processes. How's that going?

Well, surprisingly well, actually, considering all the other challenges that we've had. So, we've managed to keep the programme on target. We've had to recalibrate the capital programme inside, particularly in the transport directorate, which Peter can talk about. But, as I've already mentioned, we've had to look across the portfolio, not just for the CVL—that's not the only problem; we've got other issues going on. But, back in 2021 I think it was the first time we realised that the CVL costs needed to be looked at again because of the inflationary pressures, because of some cost growth, because that's what happens in these big projects, and then we needed to make sure that we had the structure in place inside the Government to get those capital budgets protected.

So, this is a huge investment; it's a £1 billion transformation. I can't emphasise enough how unusual this is. We are responsible for the infrastructure, the rail infrastructure. It's not Network Rail. That's very unusual. So, we effectively bought it off Network Rail when we nationalised the railway. We did that for a very straightforward reason, because we didn't trust that we would get the investment in from Network Rail and indeed—maybe the committee will come on to this—it has turned out to be that that's absolutely the case.

And we need to hold our nerve. We need to hold those investment pots ready, because we will not get the passenger numbers up, and I can't emphasise enough that if we don't get those passenger numbers up we will end up paying more for less. So, there is no 'not paying'—that's not a thing. So, you know, we've emphasised this, we've had long conversations with Treasury about how our budget is structured, because we have a service that is unusual for the Welsh Government; this is an unusual service for the Welsh Government. We've had those budget conversations. Peter has come in as the new director and got his head around that, so we've had long conversations about how some of that will work. Those conversations are not finished, I would say.

So, I would say that, in the budget for next year, we've held to this programme, but I think there is a case for saying that, in the way that the UK Government does, rail budgets in the UK are held in the Treasury, because the risk and calibration is so difficult that putting it out into the departmental budgets has proved too difficult. Well, it may be that we need to look at that again, but, for the moment, we've held our nerve and the budgets are there to deliver the transformation. If the passenger numbers improve in the way that we would like and the subsidy remains pretty static, then all to the good. But if we have another big disruptive period, for whatever reason—who knows what's coming—then maybe we need to look again. But for now—for now—the budgets are in place to do it.

10:20

Okay. So, that's the core Valleys lines, where you do control both the infrastructure and the running of the service. Obviously, the metro is much wider than that, and I just wondered how you think we're going to make any improvements, given that the next five-year funding for Network Rail for the Wales and the borders line is a reduction, even in cash terms, and, obviously, with inflation, much greater than that. And the Deputy Minister has said that it could lead to simply a managed decline of the rail services over the next 10 or 15 years. So, how bleak is it? Are we going to be able to make any progress, given the decision by the UK Government to simply not adequately fund Network Rail for the maintenance of the lines in this area?

I don't know if you've seen, but the CEO of—I've forgotten the name of it—Wales & Western has just resigned after an investigation into the way that that's been managed and the investment programme has been run, so it'll be interesting to see what the outcome of that will be. So, that's an interesting development. We would very much like not to be part of Wales & Western, we'd very much like to be Wales, which would allow us to have some focus, and we'll certainly renew our calls for Wales to be considered to be a region in its own right of the Network Rail infrastructure programme. We, obviously, have long said that we're underfunded. I will remind the committee that I have a different hat on for this, but I represent the middle of Swansea, and we have been calling for the electrification of the line to Swansea since, I don't know—for years.

But it's symptomatic, is it not, that decisions made in London completely tear up our plans?

They absolutely do. But what I would say about it is that the metro is not just a rail project; the metro is an integrated transport project. And so there are a large number of other factors for the metros, which include things like new bus fleets, hydrogen buses, the new bus Bill and the bus franchising system and interoperability modes so that you can go from train to bus and back again and so on. So, there is a whole series of things that I can tell the committee about that we're doing on the integrated transport model for those.

Yes. So, it's not just about rail, I suppose is the bottom line there.

Yes, I understand that. Nevertheless, in terms of the shortfall in funding for Network Rail, they're willing partners, but they actually don't have sufficient funding to do more than patch the most urgent.

Well, I'm not going to argue with that. Quite clearly, we think we have a current UK Government that does not understand at all the value of public transport or public services and they clearly are having problems at UK Government level, because of the way that they're having to hold rail in the Treasury, because of the difficulties of all of this. Frankly, they've had a franchising model that is like the one we took over from KeolisAmey, which allows them to run the thing into the ground without investing in it at all, which is clearly idiotic, over the longer term. So, we need a new model for that.

Okay. So, where does that leave the challenge of developing north and south Wales metro systems?

So, I'll come to Peter for some of the detail of this.

That's fine. Because, how are we going to get these funded, given that the Treasury is not playing ball?

Let's let Peter talk about some of the negotiations that have been going on.

So, the Network Rail funding is primarily about maintenance renewals rather than new, and that's where we come to on the metros work. And as you know, this is not within the control of the Welsh Government; this is UK Government responsibility. Our watch word on new, additional to the CVL infrastructure is to be ready. So, we are putting Welsh Government development funding next to these schemes, and that is real money. You start small, and, as you get more confidence, you build up, but we are a long way from fully funded, shovel-ready schemes, because we don't have that commitment from the UK Government on the future pipeline. But the approach that we're taking is one of readiness, because, to justify investment, you need to know how each individual part fits together in the network. So, you need to—. And this is the metro concept, although we will be moving away from the term 'metro', and I could talk about that separately. You need to develop the whole to ensure that you know that there's a case for each individual part, and that gives you more confidence to put money into the individual parts.

So, a good example is the Burns report on south-east Wales, after the M4. That put together a proposition of the whole that gave us the confidence to push very hard for funding to develop the stations along the rail spine and the upgrades in the relief lines. Progress on that is slower than we would like with the UK Government, but, nonetheless, some money has now been attached to it.

10:25

So, we actually have found some money to better use the relief lines.

I need to finish the sentence.

A small amount of development funding has been—

We're talking between £2 million and £3 million. I really don't want to overpromise to the committee.

Has been put forward to—

What can you do with between £2 million and £3 million?

You can do further—. I'm going to be honest with you, you can do further development work on the proposal to upgrade the relief lines to provide those four high-speed lines along the spine, but that is not money to actually do the project. The nature of rail is you have a series of gateways where you do more development work, it gets more detailed. We have moved to the next gateway. That's a very different prospect from doing the scheme.

So, realistically, with a willing Government, when might we see those relief lines actually being used more intensively?

I think it would be dangerous for me as a civil servant to speculate, but we certainly feel that we've got the evidence base to show that that is a 'no regrets' investment, because we have done the work to demonstrate that it fits within the wider whole. That's why we are putting Welsh Government money towards the development of the wider whole. I appreciate it may feel, to use the term that's been used in some of the evidence before, conceptual, but it's necessary in order to get the confidence to invest more in the particular parts.

Jenny, Huw wants to come in on a supplementary if that's all right.

It's just a short question, because I was really taken by your comment earlier on, Minister, and yours also, repeating this line that the strategic decision is to hold our nerve and we can do good things. Now, this becomes really critical if—. And this isn't speculation around a change in Government, but if there was a decision from any Westminster Government to release the quantum of funding that the Senedd has called for, if you like, our fair share, can you give us a flavour of what that would mean for that pipeline of projects that are at different stages in the process?

I'll come back to Peter for some specifics here, but, just to give you an example from my neck of the woods, rather than the Cardiff one, we've helped the city deals and the corporate joint committees—who are now about to do the regional transport planning and the regional strategic planning, by the way, for infrastructure—we've helped them to continue to develop and get through the various gateways, the concept gateways, if you prefer, because we want them to be ready to go if they get the funding. So, if you look at the Swansea and western Valleys metro—we don't use that; integrated transport system—that has been developed as well so that if somebody, any Government, was able to put the investment in, you would be able to get approximately 1.5 million journeys onto public transport and off the roads. We've been trying to make sure that the thing is kept alive, really, by our investment, if you like, and that we slowly progress through the gateway so that, if you did get some of the funding to go into it, you would be able to go for it.

Because no amount of—. Promises about the north Wales electrification are a good example of the other way round. It's all very well saying that you're going to have whatever money. To do what with? You have to have got through all of the design, concept, all of those phases in order to get to the build phase. It's not about throwing money at it, it's about developing it.

And can I just say, this isn't just about this? This committee has a wider interest in the rest of my portfolio; it's exactly what we've been doing on the energy planning for Wales, so that, if you get somebody who wants to unlock the grid, we would know where that grid should go and why. And it's exactly the same thing—you have to be able to get to the point where the investment meant something, because, otherwise, just throwing money around doesn't get you anywhere.

10:30

If I may, you summarised the strategy very well. Essentially, we are working with the UK Government at official level—pretty productively, it must be said. We do have a pipeline of projects that sums to a total that is not far different from what a fair funding share for the various England-and-Wales projects would be, such that we are in a position to react with an agreed list of projects that has been agreed at official level through the Wales rail board, should the situation change. So, our watchword is to be ready.

But the corollary of that is that releasing the potential of those schemes does rely on that funding being made available.

I'm sure it's in the public domain already, but it may be helpful if you shared that with the committee—that pipeline and the phasing of it.

So, that's not in the public domain yet. We would like it to be, because we don't want it to be—[Inaudible.]—

Indeed. The committee asking for it is a kind of helpful act.

Because we are working with UK Government on that.

Right, I just want to—. I mean, I suppose finally on this, this does leave a very uncomfortable problem around the cancellation of the M4 around Newport, because I understand the pain you're having to go through, but it means that it's really difficult to get those alternative routes for people to travel east, west and avoid going on the motorway.

Yes, okay. So, that's a series of slightly more complicated things, because Burns was, again, not just about rail. So, that is also tied up with some of the road space differential and with bus services, with bus franchising, and with some of the more local developments. So, there's a big difference between an inter-city station and a local station, for example. So, it's not all tied up in this, and there are other things that are going ahead that will implement the Burns thing.

Yes, which I read about in your paper. Okay. I want to move on to rail infrastructure. We've talked a lot about the availability of rolling stock, but I note, in your written evidence, you tell us the new fleet of trains on the Valleys lines are currently being tested, but they won't be available until the summer of next year. So, I just wondered why, having taken delivery of new rolling stock, it then takes so long to get them onto our lines.

That's well beyond my level of technical expertise.

But it's what, I think, ordinary people will be asking.

Well, I'll ask Peter to answer that, Chair. That's rather more specialist than my knowledge extends to.

I appreciate there is probably the need for brevity, but, essentially—and this is unfortunate in many respects—there are many different types of train, and there are many different types of rail. Unfortunately, we're in a world where we don't have that homogenous product, and that's especially the case in Wales. We have a very heterogeneous railway, which is complicated and makes it harder to move rolling stock from one part of the network to another. And we are using, in the case of the Valleys, new rolling stock on essentially new line, and that is something that you just don't turn on and go with. I'm afraid that, technically, it is at relatively slow progress of testing, and TfW are working through that. We can provide more detail on the technicalities, if you like.

Okay. All right. Moving on, James Price told us that the increased reliability of the new fleet would just about compensate for the inadequacy of the Network Rail funding for the next five years, and so hoping that passengers shouldn't see a reduction in quality of service. But, obviously, the Deputy Minister has also been much more negative than this and previously suggested trains can become less reliable as a result of reductions in the level of infrastructure funding, and we could actually see an even worse service as far as passengers are concerned, which is all really depressing despite how hard you're working.

So, the headline of that, Jenny—and Peter will talk about the technicalities of this—is a pretty easy concept, really. The track has to be good enough for the train to go over. We all know that you need better track for higher speed trains, and the trains have to go slower and slower if the track is less and less well maintained, and that's what we're talking about. So, the better trains, obviously, do better, but if the track is rubbish, then the track is rubbish. That's effectively what we're talking about.

10:35

Okay. So, that means that the new timetable that James Price talked about, the chances of that being introduced at the end of next year is in question, is that right, as a result of the lack of infrastructure?

I wouldn't say there's a direct link between the timetable uplift and the Network Rail long-term spending profile. So, as I said, Network Rail spending is primarily on maintenance and renewals rather than new, and if you look at that in isolation, then it does suggest that rail performance will fall over the five-year period because of the level of funding that is being provided to Wales, which was what the Deputy Minister was referring to.

If you then layer on the passenger benefits that will come from the new infrastructure that Welsh Government is spending money on and put that on top of the Network Rail spending, you actually get a slightly positive picture for overall rail performance. But if it weren't for the Welsh Government investment in the Valleys lines, then the level of performance would go down. These are very aggregate metrics that bring together apples, pears and oranges into a single number, and there are pros and cons to that approach. But we are only going to see a positive increase in overall performance and reliability because of Welsh Government funding on rail. If it was just Network Rail, we would see a fall.

It's worth just mentioning as well—. I just mentioned the fact that the CEO of Wales and western has just resigned. That's because the Office of Rail and Road has been doing an investigation. I don't know what the ins and outs of her resignation are—whether she jumped or was pushed or whatever—but that investigation is into the poor performance of the investment programme in that particular, rather large, region, obviously. So, it will be interesting to see what the outcome of that is, even given the falling investment from the UK Government. So, clearly, the Office of Rail and Road think that, even given the falling investment, they're not doing a very good job.

Okay. Clearly, we need to look into that further. I just wondered, finally, if there's any optimism to be had from the UK Government's draft rail reform Bill, which was included in the King's Speech—any hope of light at the end of this particular tunnel?

Well, it's not very clear to me that they've got any chance at all to get any of the things through in the rest of this parliamentary term. They've only got a year even if they go to the bitter end, and the transformation necessary to do some of this is much longer.

Well, I suppose any Government wants to project itself into the future, but it's not a year's fix.

Can I just say briefly—?

Minister, you mentioned how we would far prefer to not be part of Wales and western as a region, but to be a separate Wales unit, and we are having a productive official-level dialogue with the Great British Railways Transition Team about what a Wales-alone business unit would look like. Again, it's about being ready should the political appetite for change in Westminster change. We are ready with a proposition about what we think good governance could be in Wales.

Thank you. Just before we break, Huw has a supplementary.

It's in terms of the investigation; I'm glad you raised it. Will Welsh Government be submitting views to that investigation into Wales and western, and, if so, will you be able to share those with the committee so that we're aware of your concerns, because it reflects very much on the areas you've been discussing now in response to Jenny?

Well, actually, we are meeting Network Rail tomorrow for our first stage of scrutiny on that, so, I'll be able to give you a better update after that.

But I suspect the answer is, briefly, 'Yes, we are and, no, we probably can't'. [Laughter.]

If I'm honest, I think that's probably where we are.

Thank you. On that note, I propose that we take a six-minute break and restart at 10:45. So, we'll be in private until 10:45.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:39 a 10:46.

The meeting adjourned between 10:39 and 10:46.

10:45
3. Craffu ar drafnidiaeth gyda'r Gweinidog Newid Hinsawdd
3. Transport scrutiny with the Minister for Climate Change

Croeso nôl. Fe wnawn ni fynd yn syth ymlaen at Janet. 

Welcome back. We'll go straight on to questions from Janet.

Thank you. Will TfW's full budget be available for scrutiny in January, given James Price's comment that it will have been submitted and could, in theory, be provided—for just more clarity on that?

Well, in theory, I suppose that's true, Janet, but this has been the worst budget process I have ever been through in all the time I've been here, so I don't want to overpromise the committee that. I think there's every chance that we will publish a much more detailed version of their budget when we put their remit letter out, once the budget is finalised. Whether that would be in time for January scrutiny, I would hesitate to say that. The complexity of this year's budget and then its translation into next year's budget is extreme, so I don't want to promise that. In theory, it can be done, so we will do it, but whether we can do it in that timescale, I don't want to promise that, I'm afraid. 

Okay. And how do you, as a Government, performance manage TfW—whether their performance is satisfactory and the details of the areas identified for improvement? And are you content that, again, TfW have not published corporate key performance indicators more than 18 months after James Price told us he would be broadening their report to include these?

Okay. So, we've completely changed the way that we manage TfW since Lee and I took over this portfolio. So, we have quarterly meetings between Lee and the TfW chair to discuss performance and issues. We have support and oversight at an official level—so, a monthly steering board, which allows oversight and challenge. Peter here practically lives at TfW headquarters. James Price attends my directors meeting in order to make sure that he is part of the same challenge process as the rest of the directors go through. Also, we have an official and a local government representative, who is Andrew Morgan, who is the leader of the Welsh Local Government Association, now on the monthly board meetings as well, as part of the scrutiny and challenge. So, there's a fairly big framework in place. 

We're also in the process of updating their articles of association and management frameworks to reflect the new governance framework and the new roles and responsibilities. So, they're currently with our legal services department and will be available once they've been finalised, as well. 

On the KPIs, we're in the middle of the transition across to the new performance board. So, I'll let Peter talk to you about some of the work that's been going on on that.

So, I can't deny the KPIs have taken some time. They are nearly finished, and they will be published very soon. As the Minister said, probably the biggest development, scrutiny wise, over the course of this year is that I now sit on the TfW board as an observer member and, as the Minister said, Andrew Morgan does as well. And what that means is that, for the first time, we have central Government and local government together holding TfW to account. And the story of TfW in the future will be increasing its capacity to serve both central and local government on a multimodal basis, and this may be something that we come on to.

10:50

Diolch. Fe wnawn ni symud ymlaen at Huw.

Thank you. We'll move on to Huw.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Could I turn to the issue of modal shift? Because underpinning all this talk about rail and so on is to do with what we're trying to do with net zero, climate change and all of that, and healthy well-being lifestyles and so on. So, two years ago, we published the targets for 2025 modal shift: 35 per cent of trips by public transport and active travel by 2025 and 39 per cent by 2030. I think it's good to have targets because it drives you towards where you want to go. Are we going to hit those? And if not, why not? And if not, how are we going to ramp it up?

One of the things we're doing, Huw, is we're developing this new national travel survey, which I think you're familiar with, to try and help us more accurately track progress. It's very difficult to answer that question if we don't have accurate baseline data and so on, so we'll need to develop the national travel survey to do that. We're estimating that 32 per cent of journeys were made by public transport, and that needs to increase to 35 per cent by 2025 and 39 per cent by 2030. So, we're not far off, but we all know that those few percentages make a huge difference. Getting people out of their cars is what we're talking about and onto public transport or active travel modes. And it might sound like it's not too much of a difference, but that last couple of per cent is the hard-to-get people. So, yes, we absolutely need to do that, and to do that, we go back to the conversation I was just having with Luke and the committee earlier: we need to make it a much more attractive proposition to travel by public transport. We need to do that both on the railways and on the bus services, and we've got a long way to go on bus as well.

Are you optimistic that, with the changes that we've talked about, the investment strategy that we have, we will do that? We'll come back to active travel later on, but we've massively ramped up—I know we've got temporary issues with it—investment in active travel, but we haven't seen the behavioural change, and we're massively investing right now at the front end in terms of rail, but we're hoping the passengers will come with us and we can keep that confidence and people will hold their nerve.

Yes, because it works in cities where mass transit works, and it's much easier to travel by public transport than it is to drive your car, frankly; so, that's what we need to do. We need to make the right choice the easy choice. That's the thing we say all the time, isn't it? In order to do that, we have to have a public transport system—a mass transit system, that's what we're talking about, particularly for Cardiff, which is where the vast majority of people are coming in for work and that kind of thing—and we have to have one that works. People use mass transit systems in big cities because it's very nearly impossible to drive and it's easy and cheap to use the mass transit system. We have to transition to that. The transition is always difficult, isn't it? In every city that you've ever talked about, the transition is difficult. The legendary tale of Edinburgh's trams is one. I don't know if you've read the book, but it's a very interesting book. But, you know, talk about hold your nerve while you go along a journey. So, we do need to hold our nerve, but we will also need to make it more difficult to drive, eventually. You need to get it calibrated in the right order, don't you?

Yes. I've finished my questions, but I'll just make an observation. I had to drive my brother down to Heathrow Airport the other day because he had multiple cases. He's emigrating, he's moving, so I had to drive him down, as it was the only option, in my diesel car. Some 10 years ago, I chaired the committee that wrote the report that advocated for extending the charging out to Heathrow. When I got hit by the £17 or thereabouts, my brother went, 'Oh, that's a disaster'. I said, 'No, that's exactly what should be going on'. So, your point is well made; there need to be carrots and also some sticks as well, to direct. 

I feel obliged at this point to say, Huw, that I've made a very similar journey myself, but I sailed through as I have an electric car. [Laughter.]

Perfect.

Grêt. Diolch am hwnna. Fe wnawn ni symud ymlaen at Joyce.

Great. Thank you for that. We'll move on to Joyce.

We are in the development stage of corporate joint committees, and that's good news; what we would like to know as a committee is, specifically, their staffing, their skills, their funding and their wider resources, and how—obviously, because we're in the transport committee—they're being integrated into transport, but also land use and planning systems and structures.

10:55

I'm very pleased to say that all the CJCs have submitted their implementation plans. They did that by the end of October. Those plans are being reviewed, and they're being signed off as they go, subject to a small number of comments being addressed. We've provided each CJC with £225,000 over the next 15 months to support the development of those plans to implementation, and we're confident that that will enable them to deliver the regional transport plan. They also simultaneously have to deliver the regional strategic plan, which is the infrastructure plan—the one that's missing between 'Future Wales' and the LDP. So, they'll be putting those in place at the same time. It's clearly two sides of the same coin. You need to have the transport planning, but you need to have the planning in place to put the transport plan into place as well. So, we've been encouraging them to see them as an integrated whole. As far as I know, all of that is going very well, unless Peter is going to tell me differently.

I'm not. It is going well. What I would say is there's quite a big change happening under the surface in TfW to support this. I mentioned earlier that we were looking to move away from the concept of metros, and we're calling that instead 'regional transport planning', because as the Minister said it's about far more than rail, especially given the costs of rail and the fact we're not fully in control of rail. So, there are now four regional teams in TfW that work in a clearer way to a regional director. That is now Lee Robinson, who you may have met on some projects and schemes. They exist to serve each of the CJCs and support them in their plan, and we would far rather that the CJCs make use of Transport for Wales and their expertise and their analysis, rather than commission a lot of consultants. So, we're trying to provide more of an in-house service, and that's again one of the reasons why we now have a local government representative on the TfW board to reflect that accountability and provide a method for scrutiny of that.

What do you expect an effective regional plan to look like?

Joyce, this is one of the reasons why we put the CJCs in place, and I know you all know I was the Minister who took that Bill through, so it's really nice to see them coming into operation. The whole purpose of them was to make sure that we had regional co-ordination across things that didn't have to have invisible force fields at the edge of each local authority. So, it is nice to see this beginning to happen. What we expect to see is a good integrated transport system planned out for over five years, so that the local authority can understand what that looks like and what the investment strategies need to look like, but also understand what actually needs to happen on the ground in terms of making that happen.

I think this is a really good news story that we've managed to do it like this. This is proper integrated transport planning. You would expect those councils coming together in that regional conglomeration to be able to talk about that whole region—the transit needs of the entire region and not just of their local authority narrow part. It's tied up with the bus franchising that we want to do as well, and a redirection of the really very large amounts of money we put into bus that just do not get us the service that we need to have. And it will be about integrated ticketing, easier journeys, better decisions made on how those things line up with people's work patterns and school transport.

I'm due to meet—. I think it might have been you, Delyth, who asked me. Somebody, I think, on the Plaid benches asked me when I was meeting the education Minister to talk about the Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008. It might have been Heledd, actually, now I think about it; one of you, anyway. And that's part of the picture, isn't it? It's about making sure that we have the best integrated network of things that we are paying for that get the most people to the place they want to go in the fastest possible way, over what might be two buses and a train, or a train, a bus and then a train—whatever.

But it needs to integrate, and the timetables need to integrate, and they need to be intuitive so that people don't have to have a PhD in timetabling in order to decide to go down to their local town. So, that's what we expect, in layperson's terms. There's lots of technical transport stuff to go into that, and we need the franchising—which I'm sure we'll talk about when we get to it—to work, because we need those services to run exactly where we want them to run, to match the timetables up, to give people those decent journeys, and that will also get you the modal shift that you want, of course.

We heard from James Price that the metro systems and bus franchising, which you've just mentioned, will be linked into those regional transport plans. But we're interested to know how that will work in practice, especially the governance arrangements and funding. And who's going to be in charge and accountable?

11:00

What we've been working on with local authorities—and we've been doing this for years—is something that allows TfW to be the expert, if you like, in the middle, or the controlling mind—I think we used that language at one point—and then for the local authorities to be able to contribute their expertise, both at a local level and at regional level, about where the route planning should go, so that you get a good combination of an integrated Wales-wide service from TfW, but also, then, the regional and local knowledge coming into where exactly should the routes be and what is needed in terms of investment and infrastructure. So, it's using models that are used elsewhere in the world—the Transport for London model, for example, which we all know works. It never did get deregulated, and so it's had an integrated transport system for quite some time. So, it's using models that work elsewhere in the world as well; there are many cities that have that kind of transport planning. 

The franchising is complex; I'm sure Ruth and Peter between them can talk to you about some of the complexities of that. You'll know we're bringing forward the bus Bill in order to implement some of that. These are an integrated series of steps that we have to take altogether. So, we need the regional transport planning in place, partly as a justification for what we're doing on franchising, so there's a little bit of a 'what comes first' thing going on there. But Peter and Ruth can talk to you about the very many—

We will be coming on to bus services and franchising very shortly, actually. Joyce, did you have any other questions?

What we really need is an outline of who's going to be in charge. Is it going to be a joint arrangement between the Welsh Government, TfW and CJCs? The accountability, I suppose, is what I'm asking about. 

Yes, that's exactly what it will be. TfW is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Welsh Government, just to say. So, obviously, they are us for this purpose. We hold them to account in that way, and they will hold the reins, if you like, for the local services that are specified and controlled regionally. A bus franchising Bill will set out in some detail how the franchising works and who's responsible for it. 

Diolch. We are moving on to bus services now. Janet. 

Just the confirmation of who will be the contracting authority and details of the governance structures that are going to be established. I've also been asked by bus companies in my area, 'Do we start to wind our businesses down now?' or, 'How do we come forward to be part of the franchising?' I think there's a lack of clarity out there, Minister. I think it would be good to, perhaps, whilst everyone's moaning about the bus services in our area, try and work with our bus companies, the ones we've got now, and the ones who I know, as a local politician, are good companies, delivering the best they can at the moment. 

We meet with the bus companies very regularly. Lee does when he's here, and I do as well, actually. Peter meets with them very regularly, and so does Ruth. We have a well-developed network of meetings with the bus operators, done on a regional basis across Wales. Also, I've been in two, at least, national ones. The idea is, of course, that the bus companies bid into the franchise. What we'd like very much is for them to bid into the franchising, and then run the franchised network on our behalf. That will allow us to better direct the very substantial amount of money we already put in. At the moment, all we're doing is shoring up the company, and the company makes a series of decisions based on commercial issues for itself, skewed very much by the concessionary farebox, by the way. So, we're driving some of the anomalies in the market ourselves, because, obviously, if you were a bus company and you were being paid a subsidy to run particular routes, and you also knew that there were a very large number of concessionary bus pass holders along a route, and you knew the Welsh Government would pay you for those people to get on the bus, then you would calibrate your services accordingly. Of course you would; you're trying to make some money. That's not necessarily the best way to do it for those people trying to get to work or school, or do a number of other things. But it's a steady income for the bus company. I'm not blaming them for doing that, but it's an anomaly in the current market that we need to sort out as a result of the franchise. So, good bus companies across Wales will be pivotal to this, Janet. 

Sometimes, I know that, with certain bids, and the bidding process generally—not just in Wales, but generally—the smaller companies can be a little bit reluctant: 'Oh, the bigger companies will get it'. So, will it be one franchise, or will it be a series of smaller ones? How will it work?

11:05

We envisage a mosaic. We don't think it would be appropriate for there just to be one franchise for the whole of Wales because, in effect, that would restrict the availability of bidders to large multinational companies, who may well want to be a part of some franchises, but we don't think the one-size-fits-all model is appropriate for Wales. We have a very large number of small operators in Wales, as you will be aware of, in particular in rural areas, and they may be able to provide an excellent service. So, what we want to be able to do is to have some larger pots and some smaller pots, and some medium-sized pots, and the design of these is quite an art, because they each have to have an integrity in their own right as well as fit together in a wider network.

We went up to Manchester, Ruth and I and a few other officials, with TfW to learn how they've done it there. Some really interesting models there, in terms of the support that they provide to small and medium-sized enterprises in the bid process, for example, because we don't want the process of bidding to be something that people have to self-select out of, because, as you will appreciate, there are lots of boxes to tick. We may be able to provide support in different models.

So, we're pretty open-minded about this, and there will be an implementation plan for all this published alongside the Bill, because the Bill itself will be quite technical legalese. There's a much wider story about how we will engage with operators, which will be in that plan.

I think we're—.

Yes. It's a year 3 Bill.

Because there is nervousness in the industry, and I can understand that myself.

Of course there is, because it's a change, isn't it? Some of the very well established companies around Wales are used to the current operating model, but the current operating model doesn't work for them any more than it works for us. They're all struggling.

That is something that comes through loud and clear in the bus meetings that we have. It's not like we've got a functioning system and we're wilfully changing it. This system does not function. It doesn't work for them, it doesn't work for us. It doesn't work for the local authorities or the health boards who all subsidise services into this as well. And what we need is a system that works both for the companies, so they can have a decent model that delivers them a decent income, but also actually delivers the services that means that, when you look at a bus, it's got more than three people on it.

And also, the other thing I would say is, that it has people on that bus who actually have other options. So, at the moment, most people on a bus don't have any other options. What we need is for people who do have an option to have opted for the bus, which is a wholly different kettle of fish. And to do that you need the integrated transport systems we've already discussed in the committee. So, this is a complete mosaic of what we're trying to do across Wales.

I feel better assured, actually, now that the smaller companies—

And just to say, Janet, we have a mixed economy in bus. So, in Cardiff and in Newport, we have local authority owned bus companies. So, if we did a one size fits all, we'd be chucking those under the proverbial bus as well.

I think there's a theory that that may happen. So, anyone picking up on this meeting today will be—

We're absolutely, absolutely in conversation with our bus operators. We work with them hand in glove. Ruth practically lives with them. [Laughter.] I have met them on a large number of occasions. We are very interested in making sure that we can sustain the current model, broken as it is, until we get to the bus Bill. Trying to maintain what is clearly a broken system while we get the new system in place has been one of the main things we've been trying to do.

And just to add, we're looking to put in place communication structures to make sure that the conversations between Welsh Government, Transport for Wales, the operators, and local authorities, all key partners, is happening, because I think the transition is going to be key in terms of where we are now and how we move to franchising.

My big ask would be that, if Transport for Wales can work with the smaller operators, well, all operators, but have that really strong line of communication, because that helps a lot.

Okay. Could you just clarify who the contracting authority will be, please? And if you could give us an outline, or if you could write to us, even, with some detail about how the governance structure would work.

Committee will remember that we put a White Paper out that had a lot of this in it, and then we're just discussing a model that has TfW at the centre, and then the local authorities feeding into that. We're still in discussions with the local authorities about some of the nuances of this, Chair, so we'll keep you informed, but I can't say that we've got a crystalised perfect structure yet, because we don't.

Just before we go on to Jenny, I know Huw had a supplementary, and then we'll come on to Jenny.

It's on the models that will be flowing from the White Paper into the legislation. I'm sure there will be provision within that for municipal models. I think there are 10 or a dozen within the UK at the moment; there might be a few more that are, essentially, municipal bus companies. And that's great, as an alternative model to the local private operators. Are you also writing into that other not-for-profit models? I'm not saying that there's anybody ready yet, but we do have, internationally, examples of not municipal companies, but not-for-profit organisations that run bus services in big city areas. So, will that also be within the models?

11:10

Yes. I mean, one of the complexities of the franchising process—and this is a discussion that's been going on for five years or more, right—one of the discussions there is exactly the problem we have with all bidding in to Government projects: will we allow, for example, a consortium to bid in, so that you have some community transport, some private and some not-for-profit, or will we allow an overarching person to bid into the franchise, but who we know is sub-contracting it out to—? You know, what—?

That's why I'm telling you that we don't yet have a set-in-stone model, because we're working through what are the ramifications of that. One of the things we want to do is remove the prohibition from local authorities that don't currently run a bus company from running them. You know, there's currently a prohibition in place. That doesn't mean to say that I think there'll be a plethora of local authorities suddenly wanting to run the buses, just to be clear. I really think there will not be a plethora of local authorities who want to do that.

And also, we currently subsidise the buses very severely. I'm not expecting that to magically go away overnight either. So, we will bear the revenue risk of this, as a Government, as we do now, so that's not a big change in the way that we do it. And then, Huw, we will have to make sure that the franchising model is fit for future purposes. So, when we're taking the bus Bill through, I'm sure there'll be lots of robust conversations in the committee about the ability to morph the franchise to futureproof it. So, we're not going to be setting some franchise in stone and then that's it for 25 years.

We certainly want to facilitate a mixed economy.

Thank you. On a very related point, or that point exactly, Jenny.

Yes. Nuances—do they include integrating school transport with fee-paying passengers?

That's up for discussion. That's easier in some places than others. So, it's easier in big cities than it is in rural areas, but, you know, ideally, I would say that, if we could get a very good bus network running in every part of Wales, there'd be no reason why schoolchildren shouldn't use that network. That is very much not the case now, and we would want to make sure that there was a transition. This is a shift for parents as well, isn't it? If you live in a city where it's normal for schoolchildren to catch the bus, then your children catch the bus. If you live in an area where it's normal for your children to get on supervised school transport, then putting them onto the standard bus service will be a shift for you, and we will have to make sure that people are comfortable with that. And there may need to be provisions to make sure that people are comfortable with that, in terms of escorts and so on. So, that is not a one size fits all by any means, either.

Okay. But, equally, there are many communities where the only bus is the school bus on a daily basis.

Yes, yes. Absolutely. And you know there are already real issues. I live in a community like that, and the school bus will have two or three seats on it, but they're not allowed to be used by other members of the communities, because there are issues about escorting the children and all the rest of it. So, we need to overcome a large number of cultural and other concerns around Wales. It's not just about the bus.

So, this is something that we can look at in the bus regulation Bill.

Excellent. I just wanted to press you on what you were saying earlier, which is that the Welsh Government bears the revenue costs, as stated in the White Paper. What are the risks that the taxpayer is running in terms of suddenly taking on responsibility for everything?

Yes. So, since the beginning of COVID, we've put £200 million into buses. So, it's a substantial investment, and we're, frankly, just not getting back from that investment the kind of service that we need, for all kinds of complicated reasons—and that's not laying blame at anyone's door; it just is a flat fact. So, we need to construct something that allows us to increase—. Exactly as the conversation with trains does: it allows us to increase the patronage, put the farebox up and reduce the Government subsidy, because people are willing and able to pay to go on the bus. But it's a transitionary process, isn't it? You're not going to go from where we are now to that. Peter and Ruth have been working really hard on trying to understand and try and forecast what that revenue pressure looks like. But, inevitably, we will be holding the revenue pressure for that. There isn't any other way of doing it.

What we would say is, implicitly, we already hold it.

11:15

Because, for example, passenger numbers didn’t come back after COVID, so Government had to step in to provide additional support, which was the right thing to do, but that is in effect a form of bearing revenue risk. So, what franchising does is it makes it more explicit, and it gives Government more control over the network, because you could argue that the current arrangement is the worst of all worlds: you spend the money, but you don’t have the control. At least with franchising you have the control as well as the more explicit ownership of risk.

Thank you. And, very briefly, if it were to be found that the 20 mph limit was having an impact adversely on bus services, is that something that the Government would look at?

We're monitoring that really closely, Delyth. I think the real solution there is road surface differentiation rather than exemption. So, bus lanes, effectively, or priority at traffic lights and so on. You want that for a number of reasons, actually. You want people sitting in their cars to see that the bus is going faster, because, actually, maybe then they’ll think, 'If I was on the bus I’d get there faster.' So, there are lots of psychological reasons for wanting that. But that’s what we need. Making the bus go faster than 20 mph, that is not the answer. We’re doing this because we want to avoid collisions. I can assure you that being run over by a bus is considerably bad news, so the fact that it’s going faster on a road where you’d expect a lower speed limit is clearly not the answer. But the answer is making sure that timetables work, monitoring what the actual effect is, rather than the theoretical effect, and then having road space differentiation as a result of that, where there is an issue. It remains to be seen whether the forecasted issues actually come to fruition. I have to say, in my own neck of the woods I have had a very robust conversation with the bus company, who started running their services earlier, with the result that they all arrived early, because it took exactly the same amount of time for them to get along the route. So, it’s an interesting concept. 

We're into our final 13 minutes or so, so we'll move on to active travel and Huw. 

That's great, and I'll be very quick on this. But we read this week, Minister, if you noticed—I think it was covered in the Western Mail—that Amsterdam is now following the Welsh example on a city-wide basis.

That's greater Amsterdam, the 20 mph, but they are indeed giving that exemption for buses, but with that dedicated infrastructure. So that, I suspect, is where we will end up, or I would encourage you, perhaps, to end up. 

On active travel, again it's been variable across Wales, but some local authorities have really stepped up to the mark and made the most of the active travel infrastructure spending, and we've massively boosted that, which is great, but we haven't had that shift to people using it on a regular basis. So, what do we need to do to increase active travel rates? And can I ask as well when will the national delivery plan be published?