What next for the Metro after 2023?

Posted by on Aug 13, 2018 in News | No Comments

The following has been sent to Ken Skates AM, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport, on 13 August 2018, and copied to leading AMs. The reply can be read at the end.

CARDIFF CIVIC SOCIETY ANALYSES THE NEEDS OF THE CITY AND THE REGION

                  – MUCH MORE IS NEEDED TO DELIVER THE CAPITAL AMBITION!

 Keolis/Amey’s plans for the new Wales rail franchise, developed under the direction of Transport for Wales (TfW) are welcome in removing the uncertainty as to whether the South Wales Metro ‘would ever happen’. The improvement in travel from Valley communities is long overdue and a welcome boost to sharing the proceeds of Cardiff’s growth.

However, they will not provide any new, improved or indeed sustainable transport solutions to the massive strategic development sites in North West and North East Cardiff being built by 2026. These will be car dependent communities and will make an already congested city worse. These new suburbs need rapid public transport links into the city to be fit for purpose in the 21st century; their absence is a blow to Cardiff’s hope expressed in the Capital Ambition.

Cardiff Civic Society (CCS) urges the City Council to take the initiative and start planning and lobbying NOW for future Metro extensions after 2023 when the tens of thousands of new homes planned and under construction now will be impacting on the city’s already strained transport network. The proposed replacement bus station in Central Square is not a sufficient response to the needs of a growing city, and limits the future role of bus as a means of city access.

We also believe that there are major strategic objectives that are ignored in this plan that have been ‘left for later’ by several administrations, although many were originally identified in the early Metro proposals. These need to be addressed urgently, and include:

  1. Flesh out the vision of what Cardiff as a city of the future will look like and how it will work.
    – we have done what we can to help visualise this by running a seminar on future city transport, see our website.
  2. Support the massive new housing developments in the NW and NE of the city due to be completed by 2026.
  3. Join the airport to the city centre.
  4. Integrate the Bay and Bute Town into the city centre.
  5. Redefine the bus network to be a feeder network into Metro hubs.
  6. Remodel the city centre to be a productive, efficient and effective business environment and deliver a clean, healthy city capable of handling a growing population. This means leveraging Metro to enable dramatic air quality improvement and eliminating congestion.
  7. Provide a push to the Strategic Development Plan for the SE Wales region with Cardiff at the centre of and supporting the different needs of neighbouring local authorities.

To fulfil these ambitions we suggest a number of steps need to be taken urgently to ensure continuity and to catch up on years of under investment.

  1. CONSOLIDATE THE WHOLE NETWORK.

The division of the commuter lines into Cardiff between Network Rail and TfW is a recipe for chaos and inaction. In particular the, City Line should be transferred to TfW to facilitate improvements west of Cardiff.

  1. PROVIDE A COMMON STANDARD FOR ELECTRIC POWER.

The 25kv heavy rail standard should be the common standard, despite its difficulties in urban settings, battery power is needed to bridge between overhead sections; for example the final 300 metres into the new station in the Bay. This would facilitate future NW Cardiff rail extensions.

  1. CONVERT RHYMNEY VALLEY LINE TO LIGHT RAIL.

The current plans involve expensive and cumbersome tri-mode trains running on heavy rail infrastructure. A much needed light rail Metro spur to serve the massive housing developments planned for North East Cardiff cannot be delivered unless the line is converted to light rail.

  1. ENABLE THE CITY LINE EXPANSION TO NW CARDIFF AND THE AIRPORT.

This is a complex development of a route that is at capacity in its present form yet needs massive growth to support the NW. Step one is to bridge the complex interchange of the Vale of Glamorgan line and the City line at Canton with a light rail flyover, to access the south side of Central Station.  In this way, connections between Cardiff Bay through Callaghan Square to Central Station then on towards Radyr and the NW can be upgraded to light rail and services increased. This also provides the next step of a new line to NW Cardiff and into RCT (see 5 below). 

  1. BUILD A NEW LINE NW FROM FAIRWATER INTO RCT.

The disused rail line still exists for most of its length, and in a light rail format can cross under the M4 at Jn 33 supporting the large housing developments north of St. Fagans. At a cost of at least £100m this could still be financed through the City Deal which has over £300m of uncommitted project funding.

  1. RECONSIDER RCT STRATEGIC ZONES NORTH OF THE M4.

A transport oriented development approach to RCT housing strategy west of Cregiau would add to the justification of the NW Cardiff extension (see 5 above). The current plans are M4 based but should be light rail based.

  1. REPLAN LLOYD GEORGE AVENUE.

The opportunity to rethink the line down Lloyd George Avenue to link it to Cardiff Central, open up Bute Town and allow further extensions to the south of the city is appealing. An additional station at Loudoun Square is great but only part of the real need. The original concept plans for Metro show such a design.

  1. PRODUCE THE SE WALES STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN URGENTLY.

This SDP should be founded upon rapid transport growth corridors including North West Cardiff with South East RCT as well as a new growth corridor across the central valleys to help spread development pressure more evenly across the region.

  1. REDESIGN A BUS FEEDER NETWORK TO METRO HUBS/PARK&RIDES.

With Metro as the principal means of access to the city other than walking/cycling, all other modes of transport should be redesigned to focus on Metro hubs.

  1. RETHINK THE CITY CENTRE AS A CAR FREE ZONE.

Our work with the university (see the CCS website) has suggested a whole series of ways to improve the city centre environment, including the adoption of fast emerging electric and autonomous vehicle technology, the transport equivalent of the digital revolution of the past decade. Delivery of the Capital Ambition can be achieved through transport technology and Metro.

Just identifying the possibilities is in itself not enough, but CCS wishes to ignite the debate and give a sense of purpose to future strategy as it relates to housing, employment and movement across the region.

Let the debate begin.

Roger Tanner/David Eggleton

CARDIFF CIVIC SOCIETY

August 2018

 

The reply from Ken Skates dated 24 September 2018 can be read here.KS0246618_Outgoing_0