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Written Statement - Prioritisation of the National Transport Plan

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Carl Sargeant, Minister for Local Government and Communities

This Government committed to prioritise the interventions of the existing National Transport Plan. This has now been completed and published. The prioritisation of the National Transport Plan has brought forward investment that will make the transport system in Wales work better to help tackle poverty, increase well-being and assist economic growth. We are realistic about what we can achieve and we are putting our resources where they will make the most difference to people’s lives. Our focus is on improving mobility and connectivity so that people can access the things they need, such as jobs, health care, education, child care, friends and family.

We will tackle poverty by addressing the mobility and accessibility issues that people living in poverty face. We will ensure that our significant investment with contractors delivers local work and training opportunities. We will make the transport network in Wales more sustainable. This will be done through larger programmes affecting many people, such as sustainable travel centres and improved public transport links, to smaller scale interventions like our programme to upgrade lighting on stretches of trunk road to use more energy-efficient lanterns, reducing energy consumption and electricity costs.

We have prioritised investment where we can contribute to economic growth, by addressing urban congestion and improving access to key areas, and by improving the capacity and reliability of our key east-west routes. To make the road network more efficient we will address the problems that people face every day. We will be more agile in our approach to developing solutions to underlying problems – our recent work has shown that taking an innovative approach can lead to common sense solutions being delivered much more quickly. This is in the context of delivering our Programme for Government, which will mean the development of future schemes to support key initiatives such as tackling poverty, Enterprise Zones, improving access to health care, education and enabling the development of city regions.

Our focus will be on getting the most out of our existing road network through well planned maintenance and upgrades. In the short to medium term investment will ensure our road network and public transport system operate more effectively. We have prioritised an early intervention programme to minimise future disruption, including a programme of resurfacing schemes across Wales to minimise disruption resulting from potholes.

We have prioritised investments that make public transport more accessible and attractive to use. We will address the way travel information is provided and the way passengers can obtain tickets, particularly through new ways of ticketing. The Wales Transport Entitlement Card has been prioritised and there will be new pilots launched linking bus and rail in Bangor and in Newport.

We want to support a modern and efficient rail system in Wales. We plan to make rail more accessible, so that more of our communities have the choice of accessing a high-quality yet affordable rail system. This will mean planning for growth in rail use while finding ways to make it more effective. We are leading the work to produce the business case for electrification of the Great Western Main Line from Swansea to Cardiff, and the Valley Lines, working closely with Network Rail and the Department for Transport. An electrified Valley Lines network will be the first step to delivering a truly integrated metro style transport system in south Wales. Looking beyond, the strategic approach to planning will focus on developing integrated transport systems on a regional basis.

As a Government we are increasingly influencing the future of rail in Wales, and we are working to secure more direct involvement in the planning and delivery of a modern rail network. We will use all levers at our disposal to increase our influence over the rail network and services in Wales. 

We will continue to improve bus services. We have prioritised our support to bus service operators so that our public transport system better meets the needs of users and future users. Bus services have the potential to provide a flexible way of connecting communities to sites such as train stations, work places, healthcare and education. Bus services provide the first point of connectivity for many people and we will work with service providers to tackle the barriers to access: cost, ticketing, timetabling, frequency and routes. This will involve working closely with local authorities, community transport and the bus industry to make better use of quality partnerships and, where appropriate, extending services such as Bwcabus and TrawsCymru.

Walking and cycling investment has an important role in providing practical choices for people travelling to and from jobs and education, particularly in our urban areas. We have simplified the ethos behind our investment and will focus on providing safe and attractive opportunities for people to cycle, giving them more choices for travelling. We are taking forward legislation that will create a duty to develop the infrastructure needed to make walking and cycling a more viable option for commuting and urban travel, and forms part of our wider approach to tackling poverty and urban congestion by creating real alternatives to the car for short journeys.

Alongside our longer term plans, we have prioritised funding for smaller scale, yet locally significant, schemes that will make a real difference to the lives of the people living and working in those areas. This demonstrates clearly that the National Transport Plan, and transport more widely, is focused on delivering solutions to the transport problems people face every day.

We will invest in the road network to support economic growth, tackling poverty and increasing wellbeing:

  • Safety improvements to the A465 Hirwaun to Dowlais Top.
  • A470 Abercynon roundabout off-slip improvements.
  • A4059 Mountain Ash, improving access to the town centre and new Cynon Valley Hospital.
  • A55 Britannia Bridge congestion reducing measures.
  • Access to Kenfig Industrial estate.
  • Wrexham Industrial Estate Access Road (Phase 2).

We will invest to improve the safety of drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists:

  • Pont Abraham to Cross Hands Junction.
  • A465 Clydach Gorge winter maintenance CCTV.
  • A483 Four Crosses Maerdy Bridge Junction.
  • A483 Caersws Moat Lane Junction.
  • A458 Welshpool Town Centre crossing upgrade.
  • A487 Machynlleth Rail Bridge Footway Railings
  • A479 Talgarth Pedestrian Crossing Upgrade.
  • A494 Tan yr Unto, Ruthin.
  • A55 Safety Fencing renewel.
  • A494 Meiarth Bach.

We will invest to improve facilities for walking and cycling:

  • pedestrian and cycling infrastructure at Coleg Meirion Dwyfor site, Caernarfon
  • A55 Conwy Morfa cycleway (Phase 2)
  • Gwynedd walking and cycling schemes, linking Tywyn and Bryncrug.
  • Smarter Choices – funding for cycle-stands in schools and for capital equipment for travel planning.
    • Dee Valley Path linking Llangollen and Berwyn.
  • Barry Comprehensive School Safe Routes in Communities scheme.
  • Merthyr Connect 2, connecting communities in the Merthyr area with a continuous, traffic free route.
  • Royal Oak Valleys Cycle Network scheme, linking Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen. 
  • Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal (National Cycle Network Route 49), improvements to the towpath between Mamhilad and Goytre Wharf.

These schemes demonstrate how we are committed to making investments where they will make a real difference to people’s lives across Wales.

This is not just a statement of principles. The prioritisation of the National Transport Plan sets out what programmes will be delivered when, enabling the public to hold us to account for delivering what we said we would.