The Welsh Government has set up a dedicated 'Development Unit' to take forward the recommendations of the South East Wales Transport Commission after endorsing all of them.
The Commission was established after Welsh ministers dropped plans for a new route for the M4 at Newport. Its final report, published in July, noted the need for an integrated network of alternative transport options that do not depend on the motorway.
Frequent bottlenecks occur at the Brynglas tunnels
Officials said that in a ‘line-by-line response’ to the report, the Welsh Government had ‘accepted in principle all of the recommendations to tackle congestion’ and outlined the progress that has been made and the next steps for delivery.
The Development Unit has been established in Transport for Wales ‘to provide ongoing advice on the recommendations and develop a delivery programme’.
Ken Skates, minister for economy, transport and North Wales, said: ‘Tackling congestion on the M4 around Newport remains a priority of this Government, whilst also being mindful of the need for decarbonisation, improved air quality, transport equity and a robust response to COVID-19.
‘The spirit of the recommendations is closely aligned to our recently published new transport strategy – Llwybr Newydd. Integrated, low carbon and multi modal Metro transport networks will be the future of Welsh transport.
‘Progress is underway on taking forward many of the suggestions raised by the Commission. It is an ambitious set of recommendations that will lead to significant improvements for the region, and we take them forward with a sense of urgency and the knowledge that action is needed.’
One of the commission’s recommendations was to increase the number of train stations and services in the region. Officials said the Welsh Government ‘will work with partners to increase capacity, reduce journey times and improve network resilience’.
‘These partners include Transport for Wales, Network Rail and the UK Government, which remains responsible for rail infrastructure under the current devolution settlement.’
The Welsh Government, particularly Mr Skates, has been involved in an ongoing row with Whitehall concerning central government funding for the railways in the country.
A memorandum of understanding has been signed with Newport City Council to jointly steer the way forward for bus and active travel measures in the city, supported by Transport for Wales.