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Wales / Cymru Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and the rest of Wales



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Old October 2nd, 2007, 01:55 PM   #1
dronkula
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Wales New Transport Strategy unveiled

Faster North/South rail link? Dare we hope on a new line being built, or is this just the WAG getting Arrivatrains to stick a faster train on the current Holyhead to Cardiff line via Shrewsbury?

This quote offers hope for something visionary and dramatic, but can they really afford it? ""Between north and south Wales, an average over 130 miles of five hours driving time is around 25mph. But people in France are being moved at 200mph by train. Clearly we have to do something quite radical about the north-south link."

There's no way they can get 200mph trains on the Shrewsbury line.

Quote:
New transport plan to be unveiled
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7022491.stm

A four-year plan to improve Wales' transport system is expected to be revealed by the Welsh Assembly Government.

It will include proposals for a faster north-south rail link, coach services and "substantial" A470 improvements.

Transport minister Ieuan Wyn Jones is also expected to announce a number of "model" towns to bring together public transport, cycling and walking.

These towns across Wales will benefit from improved integrated facilities.

Developing integrated local transport is a crucial part of the strategy, BBC Wales understands.

Bus and train stations in the model towns could be brought closer together if necessary.

In a statement to Assembly Members, Mr Jones will also outline a need to "strategically enhance" the capacity of east-west roads and "exploit the full potential" of the rail network.

He will suggest that the transport network must strike a balance between Wales' economic, social and environmental aims.

Road expenditure is thought likely to reach £350m over the next four years.

Stuart Cole, professor of transport at the Wales Transport Research Centre, described the current driving times between north and south Wales as "unacceptable".

"Other European economies are moving people far faster," he said.

"Between north and south Wales, an average over 130 miles of five hours driving time is around 25mph. But people in France are being moved at 200mph by train.

"Clearly we have to do something quite radical about the north-south link."

But he said that making the A470 - a dual carriageway from north to south - would not only be expensive but it could also damage some of Wales' most beautiful regions.

"People are not looking for a dual carriageway trunk road through the middle of Snowdonia," he said.

"So we have really got to think very carefully about what our options are."

Chris Mason, a director of Newport-based hauliers RJ Mason said it avoided routes to mid and north Wales because of the connections.

But he said, better transport links would kick start local economies.

"When they opened the Heads of the Valleys road you found more and more businesses were prepared to move into the area and expand," he said.

'Stranglehold'

Improving road and rail links between north and south Wales is part of the One Wales document agreed between Labour and Plaid Cymru when they formed a coalition Welsh Assembly Government in July.

Last month Mr Jones announced a proposed M4 relief road from Magor to Castleton could open in 2013.

That statement was prompted by heavy congestion in the Newport area when the motorway was closed for eight hours after a collision in which five people died.

Last week business leaders in Cardiff called for drivers to be charged for using roads to pay for an overhaul of transport to stop a "stranglehold" on the south east Wales economy.

The city's chamber of commerce warned the Welsh economy would fall behind other parts of the UK unless roads were improved.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 02:31 PM   #2
oglord
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"Clearly we have to do something quite radical about the north-south link."

Why? Where is the demand?
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 03:11 PM   #3
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Economically, it is MUCH more important to improve links between areas in Wales and their adjacent areas in England. In particular, we need to remove bottlenecks around Flintshire in the north, Newport in the south, and improve links between Mid Wales and the Midlands. The road between Newtown and Shrewsbury should be improved.

However, a massive investment in infrastructure improving the A470 or in terms of new rail links would not be a wise investment. In terms of rail-links we would do much better improvings links from Wales to the Midlands and London. Cardiff-Birmingham, only 90 miles or so, is a travesty.

If improvements in roads between North and South Wales are desired, the only route with some economic merit as I see it would be: The A470 upto Builth Wells, the A483 to Oswestry and the A5 to Wrexham. This would help connect South East/Central Wales with North East Wales - and would help connect South Wales with the North West, and if combined with improvements in the A5 Oswestry-Shrewsbury, could provide an alternative to the congested M56/M6 for North Walian traffic to the Midlands.

We should not be thinking "within Wales".. in a fully integrated economy like the UK, businesses sure don't, atleast beyond a tokenistic nature. We should be thinking "between markets". It is not analagous to France - where the remaining barriers to trade and movement across borders (language, custom, regulations etc) mean that business does care about borders - but even here they have invested in cross-border services where towns are very heavily integrated with neighbouring nations (e.g. Strasbourg and the Rhineland).
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 06:58 PM   #4
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There is very little detail in this policy announcement. No mention of any specific costed schemes on the WAG website. It looks like a nat-pleasing empty gesture to me.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 07:28 PM   #5
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Pondle -I think you're right, I've been trying to eek out the details from the obvious sources (eg BBC) but I'm unsure what exactly it is that has been announced Can anyone else explain in jargon free language, excluding the words feasibility, improvement and study?
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 08:29 PM   #6
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It may come as something of a shock to some people here, but not every government policy has to be based purely on economics. Nation-building and promoting national cohesion are perfectly legitimate aims for any government and such schemes in the transport sector are hardly unexpected when you have a Plaid transport minister.

We now have an administration where a third of the ministers are nationalists, so nationalist stuff is gonna happen occasionally. Better learn to deal with it.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 08:46 PM   #7
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Lyndon, -if we miraculously had a massive pot of cash, I'd rather see intra city upgrades of public transport in the Wrexham,Swansea,Cardiff and Newport areas than an singing all dancing new motorway through the heart of Wales. Don't you think the people of Wales would benefit more as a nation with the latter?
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 10:54 PM   #8
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There are usually only a couple of reasons why the Government should spend taxpayers' money on something - to provide public goods that the market cannot adequately deliver or to promote social equity. "Nation-building", whatever the hell that means, ain't one of 'em. Have a look at the HM Treasury Green Book if you don't believe me (http://greenbook.treasury.gov.uk/chapter03.htm)

The Eddington Review of Transport said that the new transport developments in the UK should focus on supporting the long term growth of the economy, which is threatened by our relatively poor infrastructure. His assessment of the priorities were:

• growing and congested urban areas and their catchments;
• key international gateways; and
• key inter-urban corridors.

North-south links in Wales, a corridor where there are less than 100 journeys per day (I remember reading a stat like that in some old WAG document) does not qualify as a sensible use of taxpayers' money.

I'm not surprised that we have cock-eyed transport policies, because no-one in Plaid understands economics 101. Their solution to the housing affordability problem was to give first time buyers grants. So more money chasing the same supply. Result? Higher prices. D'oh! Here endeth the basic lesson in the first principles of economics, Ieuan.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 11:24 PM   #9
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All government spending is ultimately political, and the "science" of economics has always consisted largely of telling the rich and powerful exactly what they want to hear. I'd imagine Ieuan's figured that out already.
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 12:42 AM   #10
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There's something about this finally on the WAG site now

Hmmm "“In addition, I have asked my officials to investigate the feasibility of a new faster rail service, including business class facilities, which would operate southbound in the morning and northbound in the evening”, he said."

Quote:
http://new.wales.gov.uk/news/presrel...00673/?lang=en
North-South links the key to 21st Century One Wales
New transport plans will create stronger links between north and south and a greener Wales, Transport Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones has told Assembly Members. A current review of the timing of improvements to the Welsh Assembly Government’s trunk road scheme will mean that investment in north-south links will be significantly greater than the £50 million committed in the ‘One Wales’ document.

Both rail and coach links between north and south are also set for improvement, with an upgraded railway timetable to be introduced in December 2008, said Mr Jones, Deputy First Minister and Minister for the Economy and Transport.

“In addition, I have asked my officials to investigate the feasibility of a new faster rail service, including business class facilities, which would operate southbound in the morning and northbound in the evening”, he said.

Mr Jones, who outlined his transport priorities for the next four years, told AMs that he would lead an ambitious programme to achieve the Government's vision of building 'One Wales'.

“Improving transport links throughout Wales will make our economy more competitive and will bring the people of our nation closer together”.

The key priority is to develop a network that strikes a balance between the nation's economic, social and environmental objectives – recognising the distinctive needs of different parts of Wales, rural communities as well as urban centres, he said.

The Assembly Government will also tackle pinch-points affecting the M4 and A55 east-west routes, with strategic capacity enhancements for the Trans-European corridors across both North and South Wales.

Developing integrated local transport will form a crucial part of the strategy and support the Wales’ carbon reduction target.

A new Sustainable Travel Towns initiative will enable a number of towns to become exemplars in terms of sustainable travel, with greatly enhanced opportunities for walking and cycling, improved public transport and better travel planning.

Other key points from the transport statement include:

An enhanced TrawsCambria long-distance coach service, with new routes and higher standards of service;
A new Safe Routes in Communities programme from April 2008;
Doubling the level of European funding for sustainable transport projects under the EU Convergence Programme.
October 2, 2007
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 11:02 AM   #11
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Grandiose Nation-building schemes are not a legitimate use of money provided by a set of taxpayers who have no appetite for an independent Wales, and a set of taxpayers outside of Wales. This is my problem with the nationalists; everything is turned into an opportunity to focus on the "nation" of Wales, and ultimately towards leaving the union. Linking the north and south has nothing to do with prosperity, but everything to do with an attempt to make Wales feel more like a coherent nation. This is something I would rather my tax dollars not go on. Links within regions and between Wales and England would much more greatly benefit the average Welshman and woman.
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 11:32 AM   #12
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Totally agree!
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 09:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lyndon View Post
All government spending is ultimately political, and the "science" of economics has always consisted largely of telling the rich and powerful exactly what they want to hear. I'd imagine Ieuan's figured that out already.
So Lyndon, you think Plaid's idea of first time buyer grants was sensible?

The "science" of economics (and I acknowledge that it's a social science, not a hard science) is simply about choices and decision-making. There are numerous schools of thought within the discipline, it isn't a monolithic bloc of opinion!

I'm just asking Ieaun to apply some rationality to policymaking.
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 10:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
This is something I would rather my tax dollars not go on.
wrong currency. unless you want us to adopt the U.S Dollar?

I couldn't support better links between North and South Wales more if i tried. So long as the government doesn't spend an obscene amount on it.
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 11:56 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6underground View Post
I couldn't support better links between North and South Wales more if i tried. So long as the government doesn't spend an obscene amount on it.
Stuart Cole from Uni Glam reckons cutting rail travel time between Bangor and Cardiff to 3.5 hrs would cost £100-120m... clearly not worth it for a handful of daily journeys.
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Old October 4th, 2007, 01:48 AM   #16
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wouldn't that depend on the route,frequency of services and the number and size of the towns/cities they would stop at?

My opinion rests on these factors. I'm not simply going to throw it off-hand because *gasp* It sounds of nation building*/gasp*

*everyone recoil in horror* :P
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Old October 4th, 2007, 10:56 AM   #17
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Incredibly it would appear that ALL the political parties are in favour of better/faster links between north and south. Obviously Plaid and Labour seem to share that goal. The comments from the LibDems and Cons are not about waste of public money, better links between east and west etc but a criticism that the plans are not detailed enough. The Cons are particularly up in arms about lack of meat on the bones regarding the A470 which they describe as little more than a dirt track north of Merthyr.

An internet poll on icwales (of little value I know but what else is there?) suggests that 70% of respondents are in favour of better north-south links.

Does this suggest that there is an appetite for 'nation building' from the public and our elected representatives? Is this an 'if you build it they will come' scenario? Very little traffic between north-south at the moment, but with a fast road/3 hours on the train the north opens up to the south and vice versa?

I tend to agree that what counts is the loose change in Joe Publics pocket and the reality is that east to west is where the economic reality lies BUT there does appear to be some appetite to draw the country closer together and if thats the case isn't at least reviewing transport links a legitimate aim?
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Old October 4th, 2007, 11:41 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6underground View Post
I couldn't support better links between North and South Wales more if i tried. So long as the government doesn't spend an obscene amount on it.
Not wishing to start another pointless nationalist debate again, but why?
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Old October 4th, 2007, 12:07 PM   #19
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Trouble is the icwales poll is pretty meaningless (surprise surprise) as I'm sure a lot of people wouldn't mind better links. They may as well of asked 'would you like to see road improvements' and it's a fair bet most people would say yes.
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Old October 4th, 2007, 01:53 PM   #20
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The problem with spending loads on a North South link entirely within Wales is who would it serve? There are no sizeable settlements in the North, Wrexham is the biggest but it's still pretty small.

If you wanted to build a big road from Wrexham to Cardiff you are confronted with the reality that south from Wrexham there is Newtown and Welshpool (both tiny), then Llandrindod and Builth (very tiny), Brecon (very tiny) then you're into the valleys, so not much demand there.

And as for a route from NW Wales, there is nowhere that would provide even the small demand for links to Cardiff that Wrexham would. All in all it's difficult to justify a scheme like this.

If the money is available for such a grandiose project, spend it on trams for Cardiff and Swansea, better road and rail links from the valleys to Cardiff and local projects elsewhere in Wales together with links from the North to Liverpool/Manchester and from the South to Bristol and Southern England.

If anything could be done on the rail front a bit more cheaply, maybe linking up the gaps in West Wales with a single track to start with so that passengers and freight could travel up from Cardiff and Swansea to Aberystwyth and on to Bangor and Holyhead might be worthwhile.

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