RailFreight.com — 2023-03-17
New rail links announced between Wales and England are an encouraging step towards easing congestion on the M4 motorway, which parallels the Great Western Mainline (GML). That is the message from Logistics UK, the representative body for cross-modal interests in the sector. The news follows the recent announcement of findings from a government-backed study to explore options for new rail links between the two countries.
The UK government in London and the devolved Welsh government in Cardiff have collaborated over a new £2.7m (€3.2m) study. The scope of the study is to explore options for new rail links between the two countries. The study is in response to the findings of Lord Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review, a body of work commissioned during his tenure by former UK prime minister Boris Johnson.
Rail freight enhancements foremost
Designed to explore ways to better connect the four nations of the United Kingdom, the Union Connectivity Review identified several means to improve multimodal routes, including digital connectivity, between England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Lord Hendy consulted with stakeholders all over the UK, including exploring rail freight issues.
One of the Review’s recommendations was an urgent need to relieve congestion on the M4 motorway, which runs from the west of London to the south of Wales. A range of options will now be considered. It is understood that rail freight enhancements will be foremost in that thinking. Proposals include the development of five brand new stations between Cardiff and the Severn Tunnel (the English – Welsh border), and progressing the opportunities for modal shift.
A historic connection between South Wales and London
“Logistics UK supports the development of improved local transport in the region”, said Jonas Keat, the policy advisor in Wales for Logistics UK. “In its response to the consultation for the Union Connectivity Review, Logistics UK affirmed the need for greater collaboration between the UK and Welsh governments on this issue. This is therefore a positive outcome which will help to ease congestion on the M4, and hopefully lead to a significant reduction in the amount of traffic hauliers face on the road going forwards.”
The Great Western Mainline has been a historic connection between South Wales and London. Welsh coal and slate, among other goods, were traditional rail loads on the line. Now, intermodal traffic and steel exports are commonplace. Crude oil and refined fuels are also conveyed, along with an intensive passenger timetable. Logistics UK, who responded to the Review, is one of the UK’s leading business groups, representing logistics businesses and more than seven million people directly employed in the making, selling and moving of goods.