South West Wales

Swansea transport system overhaul 'could take 10 years'

Swansea metro sign

Plans to overhaul the public transport network around Swansea could take at least 10 years, business owners have been told.

A £1bn regional metro has been proposed for the wider region and a feasibility study is due to start in April.

It would include better links between road and rail, but businesses feel some improvements could be made sooner.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates said people need to be realistic about timescales.

"It's going to depend on the scale of the vision, it's going to depend on the nature of the specific projects contained within it and the phasing of delivery as well," Mr Skates told a meeting of business owners at Swansea University's School of Management.

"There may well be quick wins which can be achieved which contribute to the overall vision - but I think we need to be realistic.

"It could be 10 years or more. This is a long term solution to transport in the region."

Image caption A map of rail routes which would form the Swansea Bay Metro were proposed in 2017

He added: "I think the important thing is that we take a step back and transcend all of the various challenges and designs of what is going to be fit for the future - not necessarily try to fix what you've already got in place."

Options for improving transport around Swansea and the wider area have been suggested over the last few years, including a tram system and monorail.

Swansea council leader Rob Stewart said he believed money should come from the UK government after it ditched a pledge to electrify the railway to Swansea.

"We lost £700m when they cancelled electrification," he told the group.

"Some of that money - if not all of it - needs to come back to help us fund the regional solutions, which we will include in the feasibility study."

But in the short term, he called on FirstGroup, which runs the Swansea bus and Great Western Railway (GWR) franchises, to explore options which would allow passengers to use the same tickets on services in a bid to link bus and rail networks.

'Big vision'

Mark Youngman from GWR said integration was "fundamental".

Helen Mary Jones, assistant director of the research-based think tank Morgan Academy, based at the university, said: "We don't want to wait for the big infrastructure to happen.

"We need to start making small improvements now, but at the same time we've got to have a big vision."

Meanwhile, a consultation by the UK government is taking views on the Great Western franchise and how services across south Wales should look.

Events will be held in Gorseinon, Swansea and Carmarthen on Tuesday.

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