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South Wales Metro

23 September 2019

South Wales Metro Logo

A review of the South Wales Metro project’s progress to date and opportunities which exist beyond the funded plans have drawn an audience of policymakers, academics and business practitioners to the latest Cardiff Business School Breakfast Briefing on Wednesday 10 July 2019.

Andrew Potter, Professor in Logistics and Transport at Cardiff Business School, got proceedings underway in his capacity as event Chair.

Professor Potter highlighted the transformational potential of the South Wales Metro project to existing public transport users who might benefit from service improvements, but also its scope for developing a network that enables new users to fit public transport into their daily lives.

Following Professor Potter’s introduction, Colin Lea, Commercial and Customer Experience Director at Transport for Wales (TfW), took the floor as the first of the morning’s invited guests.

Wales and borders

Mr Lea outlined TfW’s vision to create a transport network of which Wales is proud, an update on achievements so far and a look ahead to what is planned for the next six to nine months.

Looking at the nation as a whole, Mr Lea shared plans to transform the network through investment in new trains, many of which will be assembled in Wales, job and apprenticeship creation, and rail services station upgrades including facilities, catering, retail, smart ticketing, WiFi, parking and accessibility.

He also outlined the changes delivered so far, a list which ranged from new services, technology enhancements, dual language requirements, cleaning services and job creation, among others.

Moving his presentation’s focus to the South Wales Metro project, Mr Lea said: “Metro is not just about trains. It’s about linking all forms of transport together. And that might be walking and cycling - active travel as we call it. It could be bus travel and the interchanges between modes of transport like bus and train, for example those planned in Cardiff and Caerphilly...”

“More than anything else, Metro is about totally repurposing the Valleys network from something that was built to move coal, to something which is actually an urban transport system and allows people to move up and down the Valleys.”

Colin Lea, Commercial and Customer Experience Director at Transport for Wales

After outlining TfW’s vision for the Metro from a societal standpoint, Mr Lea moved onto the physical changes ensiaged for the network itself. Scheduled for December 2023, the network will see significantly more trains per hour for services across the region, an innovative tri-mode and metro vehicle fleet, capable of on-street and line-of-sight tramway operation.

Cars and congestion

Mark Barry, Professor of Practice in Connectivity from Cardiff University’s School of Geography and Planning, followed Colin Lea and set about putting the Metro project into its broader contexts.

Reflecting on his role since 2010 in helping bring about the Metro, including working with Welsh Government to lead its development for some of that period, Professor Barry said: “The Metro should really be a catalyst for thinking about how we want to live in this part of the world...”

Professor Mark Barry

“Carrying on doing what we’re doing, especially with the climate emergency, is not tenable.”

Professor Mark Barry, Professor of Practice in Connectivity

Over the course of his presentation, he outlined the impact of a societal overdependence on cars as a primary mode of transport and how we have failed to provide viable alternatives to this.

He reflected on the regional and economic context, which has shifted from industrial powerhouse benefitting the entire region to industrial decline, disengagement and changes in local government.

For Professor Barry, poor transport connectivity is an exacerbating factor in these economic, social and attitudinal shifts.

He used this section of his presentation to share Transit Oriented Development opportunities as seen in cities like Vancouver, Barcelona and Denver. Developments such as these enable governments to look at the impact of transit systems and how it might encourage other forms of growth, expansion and investment in City regions.

Connectivity dominated the final part of Professor Barry’s Breakfast Briefing presentation.

Cardiff Crossrail and Circle lines, Bus Rapid Transit are all concepts Professor Barry outlined Both which aim to provide better connectivity in the Cardiff City Regio.

With illustrative examples, he concluded by demonstrating how the projects could be delivered in phases and encourage public transport travel opportunities to destinations which are currently isolated.

A lively question and answer session chaired by Professor Potter brought the Breakfast Briefing to a close.

The Executive Education Breakfast Briefing Series is a network that enables business contacts to find out more about the latest research and key developments from industrial partners.

If you were unable to attend, catch up with this live stream of the event.

The next briefing, How far can Welsh firms gain an edge from Superfast?, is on Tuesday 24 September 2019 and will see Professor Max Munday, Giles Phelps and David Elsmere explore issues and opportunities in Wales’ SME digital infrastructure.

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