White Paper launched to investigate impact of transport on Welsh economy

Noel Dolphin, Furrer+Frey

A white paper on public transport issues in Wales has been launched at the Senedd, with support from North Wales Assembly Member, Mark Isherwood.

Electrification system experts Furrer+Frey, who recently opened their first office in Wales, launched their white paper, ‘Developing Sustainable Multimodal Transport Solutions for Wales’, at the event which was attended by industry leaders, local stakeholders and a number of AMs.

The white paper explores how existing transport modes can be developed to become more interconnected, sustainable and environmentally friendly. It also seeks to demonstrate how the electrification of all forms of public transport can support Welsh aspirations in a cost-effective manner.

The Minister, said: “As the North Wales Economic Ambition Board has identified, public transport is vital for the smooth running of the region’s cross-border economy. Furrer+Frey’s findings support what I have been saying for years, which is that we need considerable infrastructure investment to enable economic growth. I hope that future transport strategies for Wales will be in line with their research.”

As well as Mr Isherwood, speakers at the event included Furrer+Frey Director Noel Dolphin; Iestyn Davies, CEO of Colegau Cymru / CollegesWales; Judith Evans, Principal at College y Cymoedd and David Pearce, Wales Millennium Centre.

One of the key stats to come out of Furrer+Frey’s research was that 80% of Welsh 18-24 year olds think that investment in public transport would make a difference to their access to education. This is something that was emphasised by Ms Evans who said: “Our pupils don’t necessarily have to travel great distances but they can often find journeys take up to an hour and a half which can be off putting for some.

“Students over 19 years of age are also forced to pay full price for public transport and when they aren’t earning an income, this can be very off-putting.”

David Pearce, Strategic Director, Wales Millennium Centre said: “As the person responsible for developing business performance and operations for The Centre, I am very aware of the challenges posed by public transport. It is my hope that by engaging with Transport for Wales and companies like Furrer+Frey, we will be able to do more to improve access to the arts and tourism through public transport.”

Director Noel Dolphin said: “Wales has a rich history of public transport, having operated the first passenger railway in Mumbles in the nineteenth century. In recent times investment has been minimal and we were keen to gauge the general opinion of public transport. It is our hope that our white paper will contribute to informing future developments of Welsh transport systems.

“We were really pleased with the turnout at our event and hope that this is indicative that our key stakeholders are open to the idea of electrification and the benefits it could have in Wales.”

Furrer+Frey, which is currently working on electrification of the Severn Tunnel, Newport Tunnel and the mainline system (concept) design to Cardiff, was established in 1923 and is still run by the fourth generation of the family.

Furrer+Frey supported the white paper with a YouGov survey which showed that 74% of the 1,103 Welsh adults surveyed claimed investment should be a priority for Welsh Government. Seventy one per cent of those surveyed thought more investment in public transport would make a difference to the wider Welsh economy.

Only 48% were currently satisfied with regional public transport with those in North Wales the least content – with just five per cent of those surveyed saying they are ‘very satisfied’.