May newsletter

We’re delighted to launch our long-term Strategic Transport Plan 2024-2050 this month. We’ve also published our Electric Vehicle Charging Study and held our second – and first in-person – coach forum. Plus National Highways hosted us on a visit to the A417 Missing Link scheme works.  

Western Gateway STB launches region’s long-term transport plan

Western Gateway Sub-national Transport Body (STB) has launched its long-term Strategic Transport Plan, setting out the region’s transport priorities from now until 2050 that will help unlock social, economic and environmental benefits, improving the lives of everyone who lives, works and travels in the Western Gateway.

The plan identifies the specific transport challenges facing the region, including rural mobility (a quarter of the Western Gateway population live in rural areas); journey time reliability and the impact of seasonal tourism; and connectivity gaps in the region’s transport system.

To address these, the Strategic Transport Plan identifies five key areas of focus for the Western Gateway:

  • Supporting sustainable housing and employment growth by improving connectivity to enable all parts of the region to flourish.
  • Delivering the changes needed to reduce emissions from transport and achieve net zero carbon.
  • Enabling access to services and opportunities for everyone while reducing the need to drive.
  • Improving transport links in the region from north to south to ensure prosperity and opportunity for all.
  • Easing freight movements on strategic routes and supporting a shift to rail, coastal shipping and alternative fuels.

Following the publication of this strategy, work has now begun to produce a list of Strategic Investment Priorities, setting out what should be the region’s key transport projects, schemes and interventions for investment in the next 25 years. This list will go out for consultation so that all residents, businesses and communities can have their say on which transport schemes should be included, and we look forward to keeping in touch with you as this work progresses.

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Electric Vehicle Charging Study

Together with Peninsula Transport STB we’ve jointly published an Electric Vehicle Charging Study, to help local authorities plan for EV uptake and identify potential charge point sites. 

The study forecasts how quickly electric vehicle (EV) uptake is expected to grow in the South West up to 2050, with additional short-term focus up to 2030. WSP, who were commissioned for this study, drew evidence into a useful and simple tool to predict where charge points should be located, how many and what type of chargers will be required. This data has been shared with local authorities. 

The next step will be to create an easy-to-use interactive dashboard to provide a spatial visualisation of EV uptake and charge point demand, as well as developing a regional EV strategy and setting up a South West EV forum.

To register your interest in attending a new South West EV forum, please email WesternGatewaySTB@westofengland-ca.gov.uk.

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Coach forum at Aerospace Bristol

Concorde, coaches and conversation were the themes of Western Gateway’s first in-person coach forum, held in May at the exciting Aerospace Bristol Museum.

Following a swoop around the exhibits, our thirst for transport continued at our meeting, with presentations from our consultants AECOM, Barclay Davies from Bus Users UK and Graham Vidler from CPT (Confederation of Passenger Transport). We then held a workshop which saw coach operators, local authorities and other key players come together to discuss coach priorities and ideas to support the industry.

Western Gateway’s coach forum was set up earlier this year with the aim to meet regularly to bring together private and public stakeholders to address the key challenges facing coach services in our region as outlined in our Western Gateway Coach Strategy, and identify opportunities for improvement.

If you operate coaches in our area or are otherwise interested in participating in our coach forums, please email WesternGatewaySTB@westofengland-ca.gov.uk for further information.

Discovering the Missing Link

The Western Gateway team took a trip via train to Gloucestershire to discover more about the progression of the A417 Missing Link scheme: a project to dual a three-mile stretch of the A417. Nestled in the Cotswolds National Landscape, the road is a vital route between Gloucester and Swindon, and connects the Midlands to the South of England. 

We were given an overview of the impressive scheme by the enthusiastic team at Kier and National Highways, and treated to a behind-the-scenes bus tour of the works. Construction is now well underway, with completion scheduled for 2027.

Not only will the project have hugely positive impacts on road safety and connectivity, but it will also boost the economy, ease congestion, reduce air pollution and create specialist replacement habitats for local wildlife.

Keep updated on developments here.

Dates for your diary

Our South West Freight Forum rail, roads, and aviation and maritime sub-groups each met in May, for presentations and discussions including updates on how we are progressing with the interventions recommended in our South West Freight Strategy.

The South West Freight main steering group will be meeting next, on Wednesday 19th June. All members of the sub-groups are very welcome to attend this main meeting. For more information email: WesternGatewaySTB@westofengland-ca.gov.uk

If you have attended one of our freight forums we’d love to hear your feedback via this quick questionnaire: https://forms.office.com/e/Fk5bKaag1K  Our Western Gateway Board meets next month, on Wednesday 12th June. You will be able to view our Board papers for this and watch the meeting live online here

In case you missed it…

Here’s a round-up of the latest news as seen on our social media channels. You can find us on Xformerly Twitter and LinkedIn.

ground-breaking hydrogen trial has been held at Bristol Airport. The airside hydrogen refuelling trial was a UK first and a step on the journey to zero emissions aviation.

Network Rail shared footage of just a few of the 2,000 bridge strikes that happen each year – one of our key road freight interventions that we’re working with our partners and stakeholders to reduce. 

Roads Minister Guy Opperman launched the third year of the £7m Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator, where small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can receive a share of £1.8m in government funding to support the freight sector in deploying cutting-edge AI technology and automation to improve the way trains, lorries, vans and ships carry parcels and goods.

The Department for Transport also shared a reminder that the HGV Driver Welfare Match-Funding Grant Scheme is open for applications, to help improve parking facilities, security and driver welfare at truck stops. 

Watch this video to see how the new Eastern Entrance to Bristol Temple Meads is taking shape.

Finally, this month we also enjoyed learning more about the innovative technology solutions local authorities are using to tackle transport challenges, when Western Gateway attended the Transport Technology Forum Conference 2024.

You can keep up to date with all our work by following us on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/company/western-gateway-stb and X, formerly Twitter @WestGatewaySTB and subscribing to our newsletters by emailing westerngateway_stb@westofengland-ca.gov.uk