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CILT in the Nation-Regions by Professor Stuart Cole: Edinburgh meeting of Tuesday 18 March 2014

Professor Stuart Coled

Professor Stuart Cole

© John Yellowlees, 2014

Wales has a developing appetite for transport devolution, and is ahead of Scotland in the role assumed by CILT in giving awards for achievement in transport and logistics. Professor Stuart Cole Cole explored how both countries might work together in CILT and elsewhere to promote their common interests, having regard to the success of another devolved region - London - in collaring funds for transport investment and to the upcoming vote on Scottish independence.

The Silk Commission under a former Commons Clerk was set up in 2010 with representatives of the four main parties and eight from other walks of life to look at giving the Welsh Assembly powers similar to those similar to those enjoyed by the Scottish Parliament.

A previous attempt at Welsh public transport user representation did not work, and a lack of transparency between Cardiff and Whitehall is illustrated by the current wrangle over how much of the cost of rail electrification in South Wales is to be borne by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Cardiff already has responsibility for bus support and rail service-levels, road construction and management, relations with Sustrans, mobility, land-use, environmental issues and investment incentives. Silk has recommended a defined role for Passenger Focus in Wales and the transfer of responsibility to the WAG for the Traffic Commissioner, road safety, bus user groups, taxis, airports, ports and freight integration, and the likelihood is foreseen that the WAG would take advantage of the opportunity to introduce re-regulation of the buses in the interests of promoting integration with other modes, the environment, land-use planning and other policies such as on social welfare.

Cardiff Airport has seen a decline in usage from 2.5 to just 1M passengers annually after two airlines pulled out, but the Cardiff Airport Express coach service whose vehicles are owned by the Government now transports 27% of fliers to and from the Airport. Another notable success is the T4 Trans Cymru route between Cardiff and Newtown with Optare vehicles, four owned by Stagecoach and the other six by the Government offering leather seats and baggage areas. Book a bus offers demand-responsive routing through villages adjacent to the main road with GPS. Two months ago Arriva pulled out of Welsh bus operations, leaving opportunities for local operators.

The Cardiff Central Interchange project could offer benefits for bus and rail in association with a big shopping development, but the developer insists on building a carpark. The "blue route" built originally to convey materials for steelworks construction at Llanwern could provide an opportunity to relieve the M4 between Cardiff and the English Border, where the Second Severn Crossing will transfer to the private sector in 2026.

CILT put to the Davies Commission on airport capacity a concept that high-speed rail could enable Cardiff Airport to function as effectively a Western Gateway or Terminal 6 for Heathrow. A triangular HS3 network linking to the South-East and Midlands could balance the gains of HS2 for the regional economies, putting Cardiff just 40 minutes from Heathrow Terminal 5 and attracting financial services to South Wales by offering direct interchange with London Crossrail.

CILT in Wales was formed as an entity just 12 years ago, and has developing a role in promoting awards, an annual conference, opportunities for dialogue between the politicians and professionals and joint events with CIHT and ICE. The politics of local transport in Wales have been put into a state of flux by the minister's recent decision to abolish the four regional consortia of local authorities which had been overseeing development of networks in South East, South West, Mid and North Wales.

Report and photograph by John Yellowlees.


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