Leaders from across region gather to launch £8bn transport vision
Business and political leaders from across the South West gathered in Bristol to launch a vision of a better rail network, services and stations for the region.
David Davies, Secretary of State for Wales, opened the event with a short speech.
He said: “With 140,000 people crossing the Severn and over half the population of the UK living within two hours of the Western Gateway footprint, it is crucial that we develop good transport links which allow people to commute and travel smoothly throughout the region and beyond.
“Better connections on local and national transport networks bring all our communities within closer reach of social and economic opportunities. Levelling up our communities and creating a stronger United Kingdom.
“This is exactly the kind of project that the Western Gateway was created to produce. A project which highlights the contribution of South Wales and Western England are making to the UK’s economy whilst championing the opportunities of tomorrow.“
Led by the Western Gateway Partnership, in collaboration with Transport for Wales and the Western Gateway Sub-National Transport Body, the new vision shows how the area could nearly halve current journey times in between cities in the area and drastically improve journeys to London and elsewhere in the UK.
With ongoing national investment in rail services elsewhere in the UK, leaders and businesses have teamed up to make sure the area is not left behind.
Jane Mudd, Leader of Newport Council and Vice Chair of the Western Gateway Partnership said: “It’s been a difficult time for rail recently, but this vision paints a positive picture for the future.
“In the face of problems with the HS2 line, our vision presents a programme of developments which are deliverable, transformational and provides great value for money. It also goes someway to bridging the gap in transport funding that the UK government owes Wales through the Barnett Formula.
“Our vision is estimated to cost £1-2bn in the short term and an additional £7-8bn up to 2050. This is compared to HS2 which, due to delays, has been estimated to cost over £100bn.”
The vision promotes increasing capacity to allow up to four trains per hour between Bristol and Cardiff reducing journey times between the cities from 50 to 30 minutes. It also suggests that journey times between Swansea and Bristol could be dramatically reduced from 90 minutes, once an hour, to 60 minutes with three trains an hour.
Toby Savage, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council and Vice Chair of the Western Gateway Partnership: “It is our turn to see an infrastructure package on this sort of scale and I welcome the deliberate phasing of the Vision and I welcome the further work that will build the evidence for the value of this programme in decarbonising our network, in creating access to jobs and leisure and in growing the economy.”
The Western Gateway is the Pan Regional Partnership for South Wales and Western England. Made up of local authorities, businesses and universities from across the area, the partnership aims to overcome productivity hurdles to add £34bn to the economy and power efforts to reach Net Zero.
The full Western Gateway Rail Vision 2050 can be read on the partnership website