Newport Council will get £4 million to make major improvements to transport systems in the region.
The Welsh Government has promised the funding to implement the recommendations of the Burns report, which last year published a list of key transport improvements needed to alleviate traffic issues in Newport.
The report was published last November by the South East Wales Transport Commission, the group set up by the government to examine possible alternatives to the M4 relief road, which was abandoned in June 2019, reports Walesonline.
The proposals included six new train stations between Newport and Cardiff as part of an ‘alternative’ transport network to connect the eastern and western parts of south Wales.
The commission has estimated the cost of new rail systems, bus routes, cycle corridors and other measures at between £590m and £840m.
Simon Gibson has been appointed as the Chair of the Burns Delivery Board, which has been given a £4 million budget to oversee the progression of the 58 Burns recommendations.
It follows the announcement of an £11 million investment in walking and cycling improvements including canal upgrades in Bettws and Malpas, the eastern links and Devon Place to Queensway active travel bridge last week.
The commission recommended a system they have called a ‘Network of Alternatives’ for travelling in south Wales. It would concentrate on travel from west to east to mirror the M4.
The recommendations in detail:
- Increasing the number of stations between Cardiff and the River Severn from three to nine. Rail stations have been recommended at Newport Road , Cardiff Parkway , Newport West, Newport East , Llanwern and Magor.
- Creating new rapid bus and commuter cycle corridors across Cardiff and Newport. These would run parallel to the new proposed railway stations which follow the M4.
- Creating a network of bus and cycle corridors within Newport
- Making a ticket system across all services using a “cross-city zonal fare system”
- Creating a cycle hire scheme
- Co-ordinating bus and rail timetables, with services running every 15 minutes. Train service frequencies should be “at least” four trains per hour wherever reasonable.
- Making sure transport fares are “affordable for all”
If this is done, the commission says these recommendations would create a capacity in the transport system that is more than equal to the equivalent number of vehicles that would need to be removed from the M4 to improve traffic flow.
At peak times, there is around 3,000 to 5,000 vehicles using the road approaching the Brynglas Tunnels per hour, and a preliminary report by the commission last summer found the M4 was “not a resilient motorway” and suffered badly from congestion, delays and bottlenecks at peak times.
Deputy Minister for Transport Lee Waters said the funding is to make sure the recommendations of the report “get turned into reality.”
“We’ve said all along we don’t want this report to sit on a shelf, we want action,” he said.
“Combined with the three projects that will share the £11m investment in new routes for cycling and walking announced last week – the Bettws and Malpas Canal Link, the Eastern Links and the Devon Place to Queensway Active Travel Bridge – will make it easier for people to move around the city without needing a car.”
The on-demand fflecsi bus service in Newport will also be extended to cover the whole of the Newport local bus network.
“When combined with the news that the Ebbw Vale Line Frequency Enhancement scheme has been approved, which will enable a second train to run to Ebbw Vale and pave the way for four trains per hour, we can see movement in the right direction,” Mr Waters added.