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Welsh Government report proposes new Cardiff and Newport local rail stations as replacement for M4 bypass

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The South East Wales Transport Commission report recommends ways to reduce congestion on the M4 motorway without building a new relief road around Newport.

Their main proposal is for a ‘network of alternatives’, providing a public transport alternative to the M4.

This centres on improving rail provision between Cardiff, Newport and Bristol by upgrading the existing four tracks of the South Wales Main Line, so that these tracks can be used by more trains with more flexibility.

Critics of the report however insist a relief road must be at the heart of plans to tackle M4 congestion.

Within the report’s recommendations are the addition of six new rail stations between Cardiff and the River Severn.

To complement existing stations at Cardiff Central, Newport and Severn Tunnel Junction, the proposed new stations would be: Newport Road (Cardiff), Cardiff Parkway (St Mellons), Newport West, Newport East (Somerton), Llanwern and Magor.

The rail backbone would be supported by new rapid bus and cycle corridors across the region, especially within Newport.

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The plan would see over 90 percent of Cardiff and Newport’s population living within a mile of a rail station or rapid bus corridor if the proposals are taken forward.

Cardiff Central Station (Image: Transport for Wales)

Commission Chairman Lord Burns says: “The area around the M4 is a very important economic corridor for Wales. It is expanding and becoming an attractive place for people to work and live. Just like similar regions in the UK and other European countries, it needs a range of attractive, affordable and coordinated transport options to fulfil its potential.

“It is clear that people in South East Wales do not have good alternatives to the M4. Many people have little choice but to use the motorway, given the lack of public transport options. We believe that a competitively priced, efficient and reliable public transport network could become the first choice for many travellers.

“Even a moderate reduction in the number of cars travelling on the M4 could result in a significant improvement to the travel flow. The changes we are suggesting would generate considerable extra capacity in our region’s transport system. This shift to public and active transport would have many wider benefits beyond relieving congestion, including cutting air pollution, improving public health, and providing better access to jobs and services for everyone.”

M4 traffic hotspot, the Brynglas tunnels (Image: J Whatley / Geograph)

The commission’s final recommendations follow their earlier fast-track recommendations relating to M4 traffic management, which included replacing the current variable speed limit with a new average 50mph speed control and measures to improve lane discipline on the approach to the Brynglas tunnels.

Commenting on the report, Russell George MS, the Conservative Shadow Minister for Minister for Economy, Business, and Infrastructure said: ““Let’s be clear: Welsh Conservatives are firm believers in tackling the problem of congestion on the M4 into and out of South Wales through a variety of means, and as the party that believes fundamentally in the ‘greening’ of industry and transport, we see much to recommend in the report – if measures are introduced alongside the much-needed M4 relief road.

Route of proposed M4 relief road rejected by Welsh Government

“Just last week, Prime Minister Johnson outlined his 10-point plan for a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’, and Welsh Conservatives are firmly behind this multi-layered approach, which of course includes transport.

“The emphasis in the report on rail transport is laudable, but since Transport for Wales, which is a company owned by the Welsh Labour-led Government took responsibility for rail services, we have seen issue after issue, and a poorer service for rail commuters. it’s a clear case of putting the cart before the horse, because we do not yet have a rail service fit for the 21st century.”

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Russell George MS

Mr George continued: “Another major concern is the fudging of costs. One of few mentions of money is about a “Workplace Parking Levy’.

“Of course, ‘levy’ is just another word for ‘tax’ and the hint is made that that each employee in businesses in Cardiff and Newport could be taxed £434 a year just to park at their place of work.

“This, it’s claimed could realise some £10m revenue annually. At that rate, it will take only 15 years to claw back the money the government here wasted on the £157m M4 Relief Road inquiry.

“This year, Coronavirus has thrown much into confusion. Businesses and their employees don’t want confusion, but clarity and certainty.

“We’re certain, as are businesspeople and commuters, that an M4 relief road must be at the heart of any multi-stream plan to create a transport system fit not just for the rest of this decade, but long into the future.”

(Lead image: Transport for Wales)

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Cadw

Welsh Government announces free bus travel for Ukrainian refugees

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A new Welcome Ticket will provide refugees and people from Ukraine with free bus travel and they will also receive free entry to Cadw sites across Wales.

The two schemes, which are announced today, underline Wales’ commitment to be a Nation of Sanctuary to people fleeing conflict and abuse around the world.

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The Welcome Ticket, which will be available to refugees and people arriving from Ukraine, will cover the majority of bus services running in Wales and builds on the free six-month rail travel pilot, which was announced a few weeks ago.

It provides all eligible people free, unlimited travel on local bus services, including those operating into England where the journey starts or finishes in Wales. The Welcome Ticket scheme will run for six months ending on 30 September 2022

Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters said: “This free bus scheme – called Welcome Ticket – will be available to all refugees who are already here or are arriving in Wales and will allow unlimited free travel on the majority of local bus services across Wales and those operating to England, if they start or finish in Wales.

“This is a major step forward in ensuring refugees and people from Ukraine can travel freely across Wales – it will help them to integrate into Wales and make a positive contribution to our nation.

“I want to pay tribute to all those bus companies across Wales for taking part in this scheme – it demonstrates their commitment to making Wales a real nation of sanctuary.”

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The Welcome Ticket is a voluntary scheme in which bus companies across Wales can choose to take part in. People will need to show evidence of their eligibility for the scheme, which maybe their passport, visa or biometric residence permit when boarding. They will then be given a Welcome Ticket by the bus driver.

Cadw have also announced their scheme to offer free individual or family entry to all Cadw sites for refugees and those seeking sanctuary in Wales. Visitors to Cadw sites who are refugees, asylum seekers or people from Ukraine will need to show appropriate documentation from the Home Office.

Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Bowden said: “I’m delighted to see Cadw playing its part in showing what being a Nation of Sanctuary means.

“This offer will be in place until 25 October, ensuring all those who come to Wales seeking sanctuary will have the opportunity to view and visit Welsh cultural and heritage sites across the country free of charge.”

Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said: “We’ve made great strides in delivering on our promise to be a Nation of Sanctuary in Wales. These announcements show this commitment in action.

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“Being a Nation of Sanctuary means welcoming people to Wales and providing them with help and support to settle into their lives in Wales. We’re very proud we can extend these fantastic schemes to people from Ukraine.”

“We firmly believe the skills, experience and resilience of refugees and asylum seekers are an asset to Wales – that’s why we’re proud to extend the welcome and support their ambitions to thrive in Wales. This is what being a Nation of Sanctuary is all about.

“We want to ensure that these individuals are supported to rebuild their lives and make a full contribution to Welsh society.”

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Motoring

New study from leading safety charity RoSPA finds e-scooters five times safer than bicycles

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A new study into the safety of e-scooters has been published today by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), which found that e-scooters are significantly less risky than many other forms of transport on Britain’s roads.

The report recorded an incident rate of 0.66 collisions for every million miles travelled on an e-scooter – five times lower than bicycles with 3.33 collisions per million miles travelled and nine times lower than the figure of 5.88 for motorcycles.

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The study was carried out by the UK’s leading accident prevention charity RoSPA, with technical assistance from safety-focused e-scooter operator Neuron Mobility. It assessed the scale and nature of injury risk associated with e-scooters in comparison to other modes of transport. It covers data gathered by the Department for Transport (DfT) and provided by Neuron for the 2020 period.

With the numbers of e-scooters in the UK increasing sharply since 2020, both as part of the Government’s ongoing trials and often illegal use of private e-scooters, there is a pressing requirement for further research into how the safety of these devices shapes up against other vehicles.

In fact, of the incidents that did occur on e-scooters, figures showed that the overwhelming majority of them (94 per cent) took place in local authority areas that were not operating an e-scooter trial as opposed to areas with shared e-scooters available, further highlighting that so far, the UK’s shared e-scooter trials have proven to be remarkably safe.

Shared e-scooter schemes tend to feature a range of safety innovations and stricter rules and regulations when compared to privately owned e-scooters which are currently illegal for use on public land.

For example, Neuron’s rental e-scooters, which have been approved by the DfT, are fitted with GPS and geofencing which controls where they can be ridden and parked and their speed in different areas.

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With this technology, Neuron is able to set riding area boundaries, slow-zones, no-parking zones, and no-ride zones. Every trip is logged and all e-scooters have insurance, integrated safety helmets, identification plates, topple detection, and with daily safety checks and regular servicing, they are widely regarded as a safer option than private e-scooters.

Almost all incidents analysed as part of the study were confirmed to have taken place on the roads (94 per cent), mostly on unsegregated single carriageways.

The vast majority involved a collision between an e-scooter and a larger powered vehicle like a car, truck or lorry, highlighting the need for improved infrastructure and protection for riders.

The data also shone light onto the types of riders involved and the time of day incidents were most likely to take place, with the majority of collisions happening during daylight hours, between 2pm and 7pm, with peaks at 3pm and 6pm. Men (77 per cent) were far more likely to be involved than women.

Based on these findings, the report makes a set of recommendations to improve the safety of e-scooters further, including:

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  • Given the rate of crashes that take place on single carriageways, further investment in road design improvements, including segregated bike and e-scooter lanes, would be beneficial.
  • Safety standards should be applied to improve the visibility of e-scooters on the road, including those that relate to indication, lighting and braking.
  • Providing mandatory training on the Highway Code and the practical operation of e-scooters would be beneficial for all users.
  • Awareness and training on e-scooter behaviour for other road users, in particular car drivers, would be beneficial.
  • e-scooter users should be encouraged to wear helmets when riding

Nathan Davies, Executive Head of Policy and Portfolio at RoSPA said: “e-scooters are clearly set to be a long-term feature of our transport mix and it’s of pressing importance that we understand their impact on road safety and how they can be made safe for everyone to use.

This report shows that e-scooters compare favourably to other kinds of vehicles and do not represent any greater safety risk to other road users and pedestrians. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure they are integrated on our highways and make sure both e-scooter riders and cyclists are offered greater protections from motor vehicles, which were the source of the vast majority of incidents.”

RentaleE-scooter operators, like Neuron, taking part in the Department for Transport’s trial schemes have demonstrated a strong commitment to safety and rider education. However, we need to see these initiatives filter across to private sale models, where the majority of incidents occur, to ensure any wider rollout is done with safety as a priority.”

George Symes, UK Regional Manager at Neuron Mobility said: “As a relatively new mode of transport there is often a misperception that e-scooters present a greater risk than some other forms of transport, but the data shows this simply isn’t true. We welcome RoSPA’s report which shows that e-scooters – particularly rental e-scooters – compare very favourably to bikes and motorcycles when it comes to the number of incidents.

“Neuron’s number one focus is safety. We evaluate every incident that takes place in our cities to assess how we can reduce the risk of it happening again. Across the UK we have implemented a range of initiatives to make our operations safer, including an online safety course developed with RoSPA, regular ScootSafe events in city centres and universities and incentives for helmet use and safe parking.”

“We know that with the right investment in technology, education and infrastructure, e-scooters can be made even safer and more accessible.“

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(Lead image: Dirk Vorderstraße / Creative Commons)

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British Transport Police

Police want to speak with this man after a teenage girl was sexually assaulted on train to Llanelli

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British Transport Police have released a photo of a man they want to speak with after a teenage girl was reportedly sexually assaulted in a “prolonged” attack.

The attack took place on a Heart of Wales line train between Llandovery and Llanelli.

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A spokesperson from British Transport Police said: “At 4.40pm on Saturday 26 March, a teenage girl boarded the train and sat opposite a man on a table seat. The man then proceeded to sexually assault her.

“Officers believe the man in the image may have information which could help their investigation.

“If you recognise him, or have any information, please contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 538 of 26/03/22.

“Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

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