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New plans revealed for South East Wales Metro schemes

THE Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) has revealed key updates to the South Wales transport network, including the creation of a Porth transport interchange, and improved connections at the capital’s Cardiff East bus priority corridor.

After its latest meeting, the CCR Regional Transport Authority, which comprises of elected transport portfolio leads from the ten local authorities in South-East Wales, has announced a series of updates to the Metro Enhancement Framework (MEF), Common Assessment Framework (CAF), Metro Plus Phase 1, and the Electric Vehicle (EV) Taxi strategy.

Below is a summary of the key updates:

  1. City Deal funding contribution agreed for two of the original Metro Plus Phase 1 projects, which are:
  • The Porth Interchange, which is a scheme that will establish a new transport hub with both bus and rail to form a seamless interchange between the transport modes.

It was agreed that £225k will go towards supporting the first phase of the Transport Interchange at Porth which includes a new 7 bay bus interchange; shared passenger facilities with a ticket office; taxi drop off; EV infrastructure; renewables; Park & Ride; and cycle facilities (potential for Next Bike rental scheme). The £225k will support the early delivery of a 29 space Park and Ride facility – building on the full proposal and design which was completed and funded by RCT council.

  • East Cardiff Bus Priority. It was agreed that £85k will go towards supporting this City Centre East development, which is a programme that incorporates a series of sustainable and active travel packages that will enable improved bus connections in Cardiff City Centre, to enhance a wider scheme to connect three primary cycle ways and make pedestrian safety improvements. The £85k will specifically support the completion of the full design proposal for the bus priority measures and ensure that it is fully compliant with the recently introduced sustainable drainage systems legislation.

The Metro Plus programme was initially agreed in March 2019 where Cardiff Capital Region City Deal in collaboration with Welsh Government and Transport for Wales identified a proposed £50 million programme of local transport schemes to support the implementation of the South Wales Metro.

Phase 1 of Metro Plus will see a £15m investment from Cardiff Capital Region City Deal, with a potential co-investment of £15m from Welsh Government. The remaining £20m will be sourced through local developer contributions, private sector investment and other contributions such as Council capital funds. Programme delivery would commence in 2019 and be complete by 2022.

The remaining proposed schemes include:

  • the creation of a 3-4 mile rail link from Abertillery to Ebbw Valley at Aberbeeg, including a Park and Ride for 100 vehicles
  • the provision of a new transport interchange for Caerphilly, on the site of the current bus and rail stations, complete with electronic information, electric vehicle charging for buses and a larger Park and Ride facility.
  • the development of bus and rail interchange at Barry, complete with four to five bus bays, provision for taxis and the potential extension of the existing Park and Ride site
  • implementation of a Park and Ride facility at Pyle as part of the development of an integrated transport hub that serves the local community and the nearby settlements of Porthcawl, Kenfig Hill, Cefn Cribwr and Cornelly
  • development of a new bus interchange and link between bus station and rail station within Merthyr Tydfil, as well as the creation of a Park and Ride facility at Pentrebach
  • the provision of an additional 150-200 space car park on the south side of Severn Tunnel Junction station, complete with 40 additional bike and ride spaces, safer walking and cycling access, a revamped bus-rail interchange, electric vehicle charging spaces and an improved station building
  • the provision of a Park and Ride facility at Pontypool and New Inn Station with a minimum of 200 spaces including electric vehicle charging
  • improvements to the Newport to Cardiff bus corridor to increase bus use and improve journey times, along with the introduction of a Park and Ride facility to the east of Newport
  1. Endorsement given to both the Metro Enhancement Framework (developed by Welsh Government) and the Common Assessment Framework (developed by Cardiff Capital Region) to be used as tools to weigh up transport investment proposals going forward.
  2. Approval given to further develop proposals identified within the Electric Vehicle Taxi strategy recently produced in collaboration with Cenex (an independent not-for-profit low emission vehicle research and consultancy organisation). This is part of a wider programme intended to compliment Metro Plus by looking at innovative transport-led regeneration opportunities across the region to develop a low emission vehicle strategy and provision of electric charging infrastructure, including facilities for taxis.

All approved schemes fully align with the wider aspirations of the Common Assessment Framework around ensuring that all developments support a combination of key criteria including evidence of a consideration of factors such as; potential for including simultaneous digital infrastructure improvements, potential for use of renewables and green energy, reduction in congestion and corresponding increase in air quality and general impact on health, opportunities for unlocking access to tourism and leisure and very importantly % procurement from regional businesses.

Councillor Huw David, Chair of the CCR Transport Authority, and Leader of Bridgend County Borough Council, said: “We have progressed the Metro Plus Phase 1, the Metro Enhancement Framework and the Common Assessment Framework, and are pleased to be able to provide updates on these. These updates will help us to move these projects forward as we head into 2020 and work to benefit the wider communities of the Cardiff Capital Region.

“Transport is one of the most important issues facing the region over the next couple of decades, and it is critical we bring about these improvements and enhancements in the months and years ahead.”

Kellie Beirne, Director of the CCR City Deal, said: “The Metro phase 1 programme roll out is hugely significant for us. Activating a programme of local sustainable transport schemes means that our local communities can start to see and feel the benefits of the wider Metro ambitions and we are delighted that our recently introduced Common Assessment Framework has ensured that both the Porth and Cardiff East projects are embracing the need to add value by exemplifying shifts towards a greener more sustainable future.

“With a shared common purpose, we are working collaboratively with Welsh Government, aligning our programmes, adopting a co-funding approach to ensure that we maximise the value of our endeavours to ensure that the future is not about doing the same things better but rather it is about doing better things. We look forward to Metro Plus 2!”

Ken Skates AM, Minister for Economy and Transport, said: “We are committed to improving the transport network across Wales and awarded £3.5million to the Cardiff Capital Region Metro Plus programme for the development and design of regional transport priorities. Both the Porth Interchange and East Cardiff Bus Priority will benefit from this funding.

“The South East Wales Metro schemes will make a big difference to people’s lives, improving the accessibility and choice of modes of transport, and we look forward to seeing their development.”

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