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Western England and South Wales leaders reveal vision for region’s rail networks

23 March 2023
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Leaders from across Western England and South Wales have shared plans for the region’s train services up to 2050.

The new vision is headed by the Western Gateway Partnership, in collaboration with Transport for Wales and the Western Gateway Sub-National Transport Body.

Upcoming and planned developments could see journey times halved between cities within the area, as well as onward to London and elsewhere. Trains are currently both infrequent and slow, and leaders are keen to draw some of the ongoing national investment in rail services to bring the region in line with others in the UK.

To get down to details, the vision calls for four trains an hour on the Bristol to Cardiff route, cutting journey times from 50 down to 30 minutes. Bristol to Swansea would also be upped to three trains an hour, potentially bringing the commute down from 90 to 60 minutes.

The improvements come in at an estimated £1-2 billion in the short term, which will involve the delivery of developments already committed or planned up to 2035. Incorporating the full range of improvements up to 2050 brings the cost to £7-8 billion. For context, this compares with the £17.2 billion spent on the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme, and £72.3 billion on HS2.

Read more - Rail enhancement project will lead to 30 million more passenger rail miles says Midlands Connect

Toby Savage, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council and Vice Chair of the Western Gateway Partnership, said: “Working with our transport bodies and industry, we have a huge opportunity here to vastly improve connections across the border between England and Wales.

“Through our partnership, we’ve identified many shared strengths between both countries and these sectors will get a huge boost through an improved rail service.

“It has been a difficult time for rail in recent months, but this vision gives a deliverable long-term ambition, putting confidence in our nation to build back better. With more journeys between Bristol and Cardiff than Leeds and Manchester, we know the demand is there and believe it is time Government acknowledged that our area should be next in line for investment to unlock our potential.”

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees also identified how investment in rail networks would benefit the climate. He said: “Better public transport between major cities like Bristol and Cardiff, along with wider investment in intercity transport, is essential to decarbonise and grow our economy.

"With over 80,000 car journeys taking place over the M4 Prince Of Wales Bridge every day, and predictions that this will increase, we desperately need long term solutions. Developments like the £95 million we secured for Bristol’s Temple Meads and Temple Quarter show how investment in our area’s transport can drive wider regeneration providing a gateway to Wales and South West England.

“I am proud of the cross-party leadership we have been able to provide through our partnership of local leaders and businesses.”

Read more - Levelling up in South Wales and Western England one year on


Born and raised in Berkshire, Dan fell into journalism after completing his bachelor’s degree in English at UCL.

Writing for The Business Magazine and local Biz News sites has given him the opportunity to chat with all manner of small business owners and share their success stories with a wider audience.

Outside of work, Dan enjoys live music, board games and quiz shows, and is making a slow but persistent effort to learn Spanish.

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