QUESTIONS have been raised over the decision by Arriva Trains Wales to drop out of bidding to continue to run rail services in south Wales from next year.

Last month it was revealed the German-owned company, which has run the Wales and Borders franchise since 2003, had scrapped its bid to continue to run the service from the end of 2018.

And, speaking in the Senedd this week, Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay quizzed first minister Carwyn Jones about the news.

“We shouldn't get too worked up about deciding that it's not for them (Arriva)," he said.

“At what point, however, did you know that they were dropping out?

“Was it sudden? Did they give advance warning?

“Did the Welsh Government receive any feedback from the company and the staff involved that would be beneficial now, moving forward, with the rest of the process?

“Because, clearly, if other franchised businesses were to drop out as well, then we could end up in quite a tricky situation down the line, so to speak.”

Saying he would write to Mr Ramsay with full details, Mr Jones said: "It's not uncommon for major projects to withdraw during the tender process.

"Arriva made clear that they've done this for their own commercial reasons."

Although Plaid Cymru Mid and West Wales AM Simon Thomas raised concerns that Arriva’s withdrawal from the bidding process signalled problems with the contract, the first minister said: “There is no big problem, as far as I know".

The new franchise will also include responsibility for the South Wales Metro, with the winning company required to set aside a portion of its profits to run the new network.

French joint venture KeolisAmey, Hong Kong-based MTR Corporation, and the Abellio Group, which runs bus and rail networks across Europe, are still bidding to run the 15-year contract.