It was announced today (22 October 2020) that from February next year, Welsh Government will be taking ownership of the Transport for Wales rail service. Kate Evans, who leads our energy practice, comments.
One consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic is that public transport providers have been hit hard by a sharp decrease in falling passenger numbers using their services. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the Welsh Government would be preparing to step into the shoes of Transport for Wales. This is not only to protect the future of our public transport system but also, to help safeguard innovative projects such as the Cardiff Metro from being shelved.
With works currently ongoing to provide a new transport system to transform the way the public travels around the Cardiff Capital region, the Metro aims to provide faster, more frequent, and joined-up services using trains, buses, and light rail.
An uptake of using public transport is also required to help the Welsh Government hit key climate change targets in reducing Wales’ emissions. These ambitions are currently exacerbated in part by single occupancy car usage. It is therefore imperative that we change our commuting habits away from the car, to greener modes of transport.
We must look ahead to a post-COVID-19 world, where we have a real opportunity to grasp change and the way we work and travel. With Welsh Government accepting the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation for a 95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, I can understand why the Government is poised to step in to take full ownership of Transport for Wales.
This will help ensure control of projects like the Cardiff Metro and rail electrification continue, while other future rail partnership opportunities are examined. It is these projects which ultimately help contribute to the green recovery of Wales.