Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport
I am writing to update Members on the procurement for the next operator of the Wales and Borders rail service, which we launched in July 2016, and is now nearing conclusion.
Members will recall that final tenders were received from three companies in December 2017. One of those tenders was subsequently withdrawn. Transport for Wales has been evaluating the two remaining bids under the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016, assessing each for its quality, robustness and ability to deliver on the Welsh Government’s policy priorities, as set out in ‘Rail Services for the Future’.
Throughout this process, we have prioritised investment in the quality of trains, stations and services for the Wales and Borders Rail Service and South Wales Metro and we are confident that the bids we have received are capable of delivering our requirements.
Transport for Wales has been making good progress with the evaluation to achieve the best outcome for our investment in line with a pre-defined strategy and consistent with our objectives for the procurement. We therefore expect to be making a decision on the outcome of the procurement process at the end of May. Following this decision, and in accordance with usual procurement practice, there will be a standstill period of 10 days before the Welsh Government will be in a position to enter into, and complete, the formal contractual documentation and make the award.
I have previously committed to publishing information on the procurement following award of the contract, but we anticipate that speculation is likely to intensify as we approach the decision in May. Legally neither Transport for Wales nor the Welsh Government will be able to comment on aspects of the procurement process while it is still ongoing. Therefore, unless the process permits, we will not make any further comment or respond to speculation until the process has concluded.
I therefore look forward to the announcement of the successful bidder and then being able to share with you details of our exciting, transformative plans for the next Wales and Borders rail service and South Wales Metro at the earliest possible opportunity.