Wales politics

National Transport Plan sets road and rail priorities

Road and rail projects in Wales for the next five to 30 years have been set out by ministers to boost the economy.

The national transport plan is also aimed at tackling poverty and improving people's access to jobs and services.

Improvements to the A55, the A40 in Pembrokeshire, and north-south rail journey times are among the first projects to be tackled, plus cut-price bus fares for 16 and 17-year-olds.

It is open to public consultation until next March.

"Transport has a critical role to play in improving Wales' economic competiveness and delivering our social ambitions," said Transport Minister Edwina Hart said.

The priorities are set out for the short, medium and long term in the 193-page report.

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  • Improvements to the A55: Including tunnels, junctions 15&16 and the Menai crossing
  • By-passes: A487 Caernarfon to Bontnewydd; A483/A489 Newtown; A483 Llandeilo
  • A40: Llanddewi Velfrey to Penblewin improvements to safety and access to Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone
  • Rail: Improvements to north-south journey time and capacity and station improvements
  • Buses: A youth concessionary fare scheme for 16 and 17 year olds
  • Cardiff Capital Region Metro: Projects for phase one include A465 dualling and a new Ebbw Vale Town railway station.
  • Cycling: Improvements to the National Cycle Network

Analysis by Brian Meechan, BBC Wales business correspondent

As Edwina Hart says, transport is a vital element in economic prosperity.

If we want companies to locate to Wales and our small businesses to grow then we need a reliable, joined-up and cost-effective transport system.

The South Wales Metro, for example, would allow companies to operate in the places they want to operate while allowing their workers to live in the communities they want to live in.

This plan is welcome in that it brings all the transport projects together in one reference place even if there's little new in the way of detail in it.

It says the projects will be paid for from Welsh government, council and European funding but we know budgets are becoming tighter and that will continue in future.

Though another £2bn of EU funds is being invested in west Wales and the Valleys up to 2020 this money for projects has to be matched from the public purse in Wales before it can be distributed.

In the meantime, Mrs Hart has committed herself to two transport projects with a big price tag - the M4 relief road and the South Wales Metro.

The CBI and many businesses are very supportive of the M4 plans - critics including the Federation of Small Businesses argue that at £1bn it leaves little room for spending on other transport priorities.

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