Union Connectivity Review

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wrinkly
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Union Connectivity Review

Post by wrinkly »

Just as I was writing about the Union Connectivity Review in another thread, the Review's final report has been published!
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

Post by c2R »

There's a lot of welcome roads news in there, such as an offer of funding from the Government to the Scottish executive for upgrades to the A75; improvements to the M4/M5 junction; and to look at more A1 dualling in the north east.

However, this being a Johnson government proposal, I've no confidence in their ability to deliver any of it.


Edit - they also don't appear to know where Benbecula is (p65)
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

Post by avtur »

I notice that road links to Wales are mentioned, A55 in the north and M4 in the south. I thought the Welsh assembly had knocked any new road development on the head, so is this part of the plan dead in the water already?
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

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avtur wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 08:52 I notice that road links to Wales are mentioned, A55 in the north and M4 in the south. I thought the Welsh assembly had knocked any new road development on the head, so is this part of the plan dead in the water already?
It does acknowledge that in the report, and talks about traffic reduction through modal shift in Wales.

That said, while I'm a fan of devolution to the constituent nations of the UK, I'd suggest that connectivity to Cairnryan, Holyhead, Pembroke Dock, and Fishguard are of GB national importance and so these corridors for both road and rail should be considered in a UK-wide context rather than being specifically devolved.
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

Post by RichardA35 »

avtur wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 08:52 I notice that road links to Wales are mentioned, A55 in the north and M4 in the south. I thought the Welsh assembly had knocked any new road development on the head, so is this part of the plan dead in the water already?
I think the thrust of the plan is to push the UK government to look at contributing to the funding of these links as only a "pan-union" body can do, expanding the more local and regional aims of the devolved nations
This will presumably be a replacement for the lost EU funding that was previously used for this sort of purpose.
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

Post by avtur »

RichardA35 wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 09:18
avtur wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 08:52 I notice that road links to Wales are mentioned, A55 in the north and M4 in the south. I thought the Welsh assembly had knocked any new road development on the head, so is this part of the plan dead in the water already?
I think the thrust of the plan is to push the UK government to look at contributing to the funding of these links as only a "pan-union" body can do, expanding the more local and regional aims of the devolved nations
This will presumably be a replacement for the lost EU funding that was previously used for this sort of purpose.
I understand that as a big picture, but I thought that the Welsh stand point, in particular, on road expansion was rooted in environmental concerns more than financial concerns. I understand that the Welsh government feel that they've been short changed in that the UK government grant to replace EU grants falls well short, there were some figures mentioned in Question Time last night, something in the order of £350m from the EU lost and replaced by only £200m from the UK.
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

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RichardA35 wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 09:18
avtur wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 08:52 I notice that road links to Wales are mentioned, A55 in the north and M4 in the south. I thought the Welsh assembly had knocked any new road development on the head, so is this part of the plan dead in the water already?
I think the thrust of the plan is to push the UK government to look at contributing to the funding of these links as only a "pan-union" body can do, expanding the more local and regional aims of the devolved nations
This will presumably be a replacement for the lost EU funding that was previously used for this sort of purpose.
The Welsh Government has "paused" road development for a "rethink". So translated that will probably mean that schemes that don't have as pressing a need or aren't part of a wider project (e.g. The Menai Crosssing upgrades won't happen unless there's a Wylfa B nuclear power station project) will stop, however Labour and Plaid have agreed a support deal in the Senedd, and the last time that happened (2007) there was a strong road building programme planned and executed across Mid and West Wales, mainly around bypasses.

Interestingly, the document doesn't mention the M4 around Casnewydd / Newport, so it seems the UK government has finally realised its going to be much harder than it thought to steamroll through a project against the wishes of the devolved administration that has responsibility for it.
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

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avtur wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 09:49
RichardA35 wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 09:18
avtur wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 08:52 I notice that road links to Wales are mentioned, A55 in the north and M4 in the south. I thought the Welsh assembly had knocked any new road development on the head, so is this part of the plan dead in the water already?
I think the thrust of the plan is to push the UK government to look at contributing to the funding of these links as only a "pan-union" body can do, expanding the more local and regional aims of the devolved nations
This will presumably be a replacement for the lost EU funding that was previously used for this sort of purpose.
I understand that as a big picture, but I thought that the Welsh stand point, in particular, on road expansion was rooted in environmental concerns more than financial concerns. I understand that the Welsh government feel that they've been short changed in that the UK government grant to replace EU grants falls well short, there were some figures mentioned in Question Time last night, something in the order of £350m from the EU lost and replaced by only £200m from the UK.
There's also the issue that HS2 spending has been accounted for as an "England and Wales" project, meaning that there are no Barnett Consequentials from that spending, meaning unlike Scotland and NI the Welsh Government won't be getting extra funds in the Block Grant from Westminster despite the project not really doing anything for Welsh transport directly.
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

Post by danfw194 »

On the road network, there are high levels of traffic on the A55, M56, M6 and M60, with significant seasonal congestion on the A55. A recent study found that the A55 becomes vulnerable and overstressed during incidents or significant road work events and lacks viable diversion routes.
Scheduling of ferries at Holyhead means that HGV traffic can come in waves, which can increase the chance of severe delays on the road.
There are several different infrastructure schemes in development to support improved resilience and capacity on the A55, although the recent announcement by the Welsh Government of
a moratorium on new road schemes pending further environmental reviews may affect the delivery of these .
Re the A55, the last line ^ is key, this is all a moot point if the Welsh Government won't rethink their stance.

Ultimately the A55 needs three things (that can be realistically achieved, albeit with great expense)....
1) Removal of at-grade roundabouts (plans already progressing)
2) Second Menai Crossing
3) The A548 Flintshire corridor project

As for the 'lacks viable diversion routes', well there's not a great deal you can do about that I'm afraid, especially between Bangor and Conwy.
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

Post by Bryn666 »

rhyds wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 09:52
RichardA35 wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 09:18
avtur wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 08:52 I notice that road links to Wales are mentioned, A55 in the north and M4 in the south. I thought the Welsh assembly had knocked any new road development on the head, so is this part of the plan dead in the water already?
I think the thrust of the plan is to push the UK government to look at contributing to the funding of these links as only a "pan-union" body can do, expanding the more local and regional aims of the devolved nations
This will presumably be a replacement for the lost EU funding that was previously used for this sort of purpose.
The Welsh Government has "paused" road development for a "rethink". So translated that will probably mean that schemes that don't have as pressing a need or aren't part of a wider project (e.g. The Menai Crosssing upgrades won't happen unless there's a Wylfa B nuclear power station project) will stop, however Labour and Plaid have agreed a support deal in the Senedd, and the last time that happened (2007) there was a strong road building programme planned and executed across Mid and West Wales, mainly around bypasses.

Interestingly, the document doesn't mention the M4 around Casnewydd / Newport, so it seems the UK government has finally realised its going to be much harder than it thought to steamroll through a project against the wishes of the devolved administration that has responsibility for it.
They specifically stated that if a road has a safety need or falls out as a necessary evil for want of a better phrase it will still be done though, which is why the A465 is being finished.

I also expect that given the views on N-S links the A470 will remain in the programme for selected improvements regardless. Don't hold out much hope for things that allow English second homeowners from Cheshire to get onto the A55 towards ABERSOCK quicker though (not a jibe, but it's not a priority for the Welsh government to facilitate this to the detriment of Welsh needs).
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

Post by KeithW »

My main concern at this point is the issue of electrification of railway lines. We still have around h60% of the rail network that is not electrified. In the North East lines that were supposed to be electrified many years ago are still diesel hauled. The same applies in much of Scotland. Worse the much vaunted East West Rail link will not be electrified and the line from Felixstowe is also diesel hauled.
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

Post by Bryn666 »

KeithW wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 10:12 My main concern at this point is the issue of electrification of railway lines. We still have around h60% of the rail network that is not electrified. In the North East lines that were supposed to be electrified many years ago are still diesel hauled. The same applies in much of Scotland. Worse the much vaunted East West Rail link will not be electrified and the line from Felixstowe is also diesel hauled.
This needs to be a priority job - and we need to have a lessons learned why electrification works in the NW took so long. The Blackpool-Victoria scheme was a bit of an unmitigated disaster planning wise but the results have been worth that pain - it does not mean though that every scheme has to be the same. Get it done properly.
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

Post by c2R »

KeithW wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 10:12 My main concern at this point is the issue of electrification of railway lines. We still have around h60% of the rail network that is not electrified. In the North East lines that were supposed to be electrified many years ago are still diesel hauled. The same applies in much of Scotland. Worse the much vaunted East West Rail link will not be electrified and the line from Felixstowe is also diesel hauled.
Agreed - and even many of those lines that are fully electrified have a number of diesel trains running through if they have onward services to places that are not electrified - and, indeed, if those trains may be used on non-electrified lines for part of their timetable. An example of this is that I was at New Street the other day, and a diesel train appeared, presumably from Euston, and then essentially went back there again. The fumes that the train kicked out as it was gearing up move off definitely weren't compatible with being on New Street's sub-level platforms!
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

Post by Bryn666 »

c2R wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 10:35
KeithW wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 10:12 My main concern at this point is the issue of electrification of railway lines. We still have around h60% of the rail network that is not electrified. In the North East lines that were supposed to be electrified many years ago are still diesel hauled. The same applies in much of Scotland. Worse the much vaunted East West Rail link will not be electrified and the line from Felixstowe is also diesel hauled.
Agreed - and even many of those lines that are fully electrified have a number of diesel trains running through if they have onward services to places that are not electrified - and, indeed, if those trains may be used on non-electrified lines for part of their timetable. An example of this is that I was at New Street the other day, and a diesel train appeared, presumably from Euston, and then essentially went back there again. The fumes that the train kicked out as it was gearing up move off definitely weren't compatible with being on New Street's sub-level platforms!
Manchester Victoria used to honk of diesel too for similar reasons. It was quite overpowering some evenings when you had several Pacers and Sprinters chugging away waiting to depart. It's still noticeable because trains to Blackburn in particular are still diesel but it's not as bad as it once was.
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

Post by rhyds »

Bryn666 wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 10:12
rhyds wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 09:52
RichardA35 wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 09:18 I think the thrust of the plan is to push the UK government to look at contributing to the funding of these links as only a "pan-union" body can do, expanding the more local and regional aims of the devolved nations
This will presumably be a replacement for the lost EU funding that was previously used for this sort of purpose.
The Welsh Government has "paused" road development for a "rethink". So translated that will probably mean that schemes that don't have as pressing a need or aren't part of a wider project (e.g. The Menai Crosssing upgrades won't happen unless there's a Wylfa B nuclear power station project) will stop, however Labour and Plaid have agreed a support deal in the Senedd, and the last time that happened (2007) there was a strong road building programme planned and executed across Mid and West Wales, mainly around bypasses.

Interestingly, the document doesn't mention the M4 around Casnewydd / Newport, so it seems the UK government has finally realised its going to be much harder than it thought to steamroll through a project against the wishes of the devolved administration that has responsibility for it.
They specifically stated that if a road has a safety need or falls out as a necessary evil for want of a better phrase it will still be done though, which is why the A465 is being finished.

I also expect that given the views on N-S links the A470 will remain in the programme for selected improvements regardless. Don't hold out much hope for things that allow English second homeowners from Cheshire to get onto the A55 towards ABERSOCK quicker though (not a jibe, but it's not a priority for the Welsh government to facilitate this to the detriment of Welsh needs).
TBH I'd imagine most new/clean sheet roads projects will be scaled back to cover Pandemic/Post Pandemic spending. As mentioned the main A55 Improvements are already underway (roundabout removals) and the Menai can be left for a few more years considering the collapse of the Dublin freight routes.
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

Post by Chris Bertram »

c2R wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 10:35 Agreed - and even many of those lines that are fully electrified have a number of diesel trains running through if they have onward services to places that are not electrified - and, indeed, if those trains may be used on non-electrified lines for part of their timetable. An example of this is that I was at New Street the other day, and a diesel train appeared, presumably from Euston, and then essentially went back there again. The fumes that the train kicked out as it was gearing up move off definitely weren't compatible with being on New Street's sub-level platforms!
I'm not aware of a route operated between BNS and Euston that isn't entirely under the wires. But there are diesel-hauled services running to and through BNS - anything run by CrossCountry for a start, and all TfW services that call there. It could easily have been the Stansted Airport service, which originates at BNS.
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

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c2R wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 10:35
KeithW wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 10:12 My main concern at this point is the issue of electrification of railway lines. We still have around h60% of the rail network that is not electrified. In the North East lines that were supposed to be electrified many years ago are still diesel hauled. The same applies in much of Scotland. Worse the much vaunted East West Rail link will not be electrified and the line from Felixstowe is also diesel hauled.
Agreed - and even many of those lines that are fully electrified have a number of diesel trains running through if they have onward services to places that are not electrified - and, indeed, if those trains may be used on non-electrified lines for part of their timetable. An example of this is that I was at New Street the other day, and a diesel train appeared, presumably from Euston, and then essentially went back there again. The fumes that the train kicked out as it was gearing up move off definitely weren't compatible with being on New Street's sub-level platforms!
The Caledonian Sleepers and some of the luxury hotel trains use the low levels at Glasgow Central and Queen Street. I understand they are very early in the morning or at night. Certainly the Central Station tours point out how unsavoury the low level platforms in the age of steam.
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

Post by exiled »

Bryn666 wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 10:12 I also expect that given the views on N-S links the A470 will remain in the programme for selected improvements regardless. Don't hold out much hope for things that allow English second homeowners from Cheshire to get onto the A55 towards ABERSOCK quicker though (not a jibe, but it's not a priority for the Welsh government to facilitate this to the detriment of Welsh needs).
Like improvements to the A75 or A1 in Scotland there sometimes does appear to be a 'why isn't the Scottish or Welsh Government doing something that would benefit me, but not particularly their jurisdiction?'
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

Post by Phil »

avtur wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 08:52 I notice that road links to Wales are mentioned, A55 in the north and M4 in the south. I thought the Welsh assembly had knocked any new road development on the head, so is this part of the plan dead in the water already?
They have!

Both the Scottish and Welsh Governments have taken a principled stance that they will NOT build any more roads due to the effects of climate change bought on by mass car travel. If congestion is a problem then people should be taking the bus / train / using park and ride schemes is their view.

The two exceptions to this policy are:-

(1) Schemes that are already under construction
(2) Schemes where the main benefits are safety related (i.e. roads with a bad record of head on collisions where dualling them significantly reduces KSIs).

That is why work on dualling the A465 in Wales and A9 in Scotland are continuing - but most other schemes have been shelved.

This stance greatly annoys Boris as he (and the Conservative party) are still wedded to the idea that private motoring is a fundamental freedom / road building is good, but Devolution means he is powerless to do anything about it.

Thus the 'Union Connectivity Review' was launched - with the hidden subplot of trying to find ways round the fact Boris has no control over transport in the devolved administrations. A totally unnecessary piece of work that has not only mostly stated the bleeding obvious (Boris' fantasy bridge to NI has no economic or social justification whatever, the M4 round Newport could do with being replaced / expanded / diverted) but one which has also made it even less likely the Scots / Welsh will accept cash from Boris for road schemes because of the perceived disrespect he has shown to the principles of devolution.
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Re: Union Connectivity Review

Post by Herned »

KeithW wrote: Fri Nov 26, 2021 10:12 My main concern at this point is the issue of electrification of railway lines. We still have around h60% of the rail network that is not electrified. In the North East lines that were supposed to be electrified many years ago are still diesel hauled. The same applies in much of Scotland. Worse the much vaunted East West Rail link will not be electrified and the line from Felixstowe is also diesel hauled.
There is a lot to be done, though to be fair 70% of actual passenger kms are on electric trains, the lines which aren't electrified are mostly the quieter ones

Freight has a massive amount to do, electricity prices recently have meant electric locos replaced by diesel :shock:
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