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Government supports Hendy’s recommendation to establish UK strategic transport network

Words: Laura Edgar
The A55, Mochdre village / iStock-1322705942

Sir Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review recommends the creation of UKNET – a strategic transport network spanning the United Kingdom – and that the UK Government should plan improvements to the transport network using multimodal corridors.

The UK Government has indicated that Prime Minister Prime Minister intends to accept the proposal to create UKNET.

Launched in October 2020, the independent Union Connectivity Review was tasked with reviewing the quality and availability of transport infrastructure across the UK and it can support economic growth and quality of life.

National recommendations in the report include:

  • The UK Government should design and implement UKNET – a strategic transport network for the whole of the UK, and commit to providing additional funding to improve the network, in particular the parts that are not performing well, with funding commitments targeted at parts of the network that require the most improvements.
  • The UK Government should plan improvements to the network using multimodal corridors, which should be reviewed regularly and appraised on a wider economic basis in order to support government objectives such as appraised on their ability to support the levelling up and net-zero agenda.
  •     The UK Government should support the development of sustainable aviation fuel plants in parts of the UK that are particularly reliant on aviation for domestic connectivity.

The final report also sets out the importance of cross-border travel between Wales and England because many people travel for work, services and leisure.

The UK Government should work with the Welsh Government to review the route connecting the north of Wales with the north-west of England, a “key“ link for communities and businesses. Improvements for this route should focus on better connectivity with HS2 and major electrification schemes; upgrades to the A55, the M53, M56; and improving onward travel to and from the island of Ireland.

The report also advises that the UK Government to:

  • Support measures to reduce congestion on the M4.
  • Provide targeted improvements at the junction of the M4/M5.
  • Upgrade and build new stations on the existing South Wales Main Line.
  • Develops a package of railway improvements to increase connectivity and reduce journey times between Cardiff, Birmingham and beyond, such as better rolling stock, timetable changes and enhanced infrastructure.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps: “Modern, rapid transport links between Wales and England are not just vital for economic growth and spreading opportunity across these two great nations. They will create the ties that bind our communities closer together, ensuring our investment works for everyone across the United Kingdom.”

Shapps and Johnson said they would consider Hendy’s recommendations.

Hendy said: “My recommendations provide comprehensive, achievable and clear plans forward to better connect the whole of the United Kingdom, leading to more growth, jobs, housing and social cohesion.

“I welcome the enthusiasm shown by the prime minister and the government to my final report and I look forward to their formal response to my recommendations, which aim to spread opportunity and prosperity right across the United Kingdom.”

Other recommendations in the report:

  • Reduce rail journey times and increase rail capacity between Scotland and London, the Midlands and North West England by upgrading the West Coast Main Line north of Crewe and reviewing options for alternative northerly connections between HS2 and the West Coast Main Line.
  • Seek to work with the Scottish Government to develop an assessment of the East Coast road and rail transport corridor from North East England to South East Scotland, including improvements on the East Coast Main Line and the A1.
  • Offer funding to support the upgrading of the A75 to improve journeys between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
  • Support the Northern Ireland Executive to develop, fund and implement a long-term pipeline of improvements to transport infrastructure.

Image credit | iStock