Engineers in orange suits install rails at Reading

UK rail links could solve congestion on critical road corridor

Engineers in orange suits install rails at Readingimage Network Rail media centre

New rail links announced between Wales and England are an encouraging step towards easing congestion on the M4 motorway, which parallels the Great Western Mainline (GML). That is the message from Logistics UK, the representative body for cross-modal interests in the sector. The news follows the recent announcement of findings from a government-backed study to explore options for new rail links between the two countries. 

The UK government in London and the devolved Welsh government in Cardiff have collaborated over a new 2.7 million pound (3.2 million euro) study. The scope of the study is to explore options for new rail links between the two countries. The study is in response to the findings of Lord Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review, a body of work commissioned during his tenure by former UK prime minister Boris Johnson.

Rail freight enhancements foremost

Designed to explore ways to better connect the four nations of the United Kingdom, the Union Connectivity Review identified several means to improve multimodal routes, including digital connectivity, between England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Lord Hendy consulted with stakeholders all over the UK, including exploring rail freight issues.

Red locomotive approaching with a train of green containers
Intermodal trains like this take a great deal of pressure of road corridors

One of the Review’s recommendations was an urgent need to relieve congestion on the M4 motorway, which runs from the west of London to the south of Wales. A range of options will now be considered. It is understood that rail freight enhancements will be foremost in that thinking. Proposals include the development of five brand new stations between Cardiff and the Severn Tunnel (the English – Welsh border), and progressing the opportunities for modal shift.

A historic connection between South Wales and London

“Logistics UK supports the development of improved local transport in the region”, said Jonas Keat, the policy advisor in Wales for Logistics UK. “In its response to the consultation for the Union Connectivity Review, Logistics UK affirmed the need for greater collaboration between the UK and Welsh governments on this issue. This is therefore a positive outcome which will help to ease congestion on the M4, and hopefully lead to a significant reduction in the amount of traffic hauliers face on the road going forwards.”

Overhead view of rail lines being installed at Reading
Reading freight avoiding lines installed as part of an earlier massive upgrade (NR)

The Great Western Mainline has been a historic connection between South Wales and London. Welsh coal and slate, among other goods, were traditional rail loads on the line. Now, intermodal traffic and steel exports are commonplace. Crude oil and refined fuels are also conveyed, along with an intensive passenger timetable. Logistics UK, who responded to the Review, is one of the UK’s leading business groups, representing logistics businesses and more than seven million people directly employed in the making, selling and moving of goods.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

3 comments op “UK rail links could solve congestion on critical road corridor”

bönström bönström|19.03.23|03:41

Hm…, surprising that obviously, here, industry of logistics is satisfied with service rendered by current railway standard. which regrettably is regarded low quality – and Bottleneck, obstructing the needed modal shift… (M4 has to be in very bad shape…, as, otherwise now, the road trucks, for majority is the single available alternative.)
Regardless which, for sustainability, now railways has to add, and provide for resiliency – and for redundancy (70 kip, etc.)!

Geoff Isaac|22.03.23|09:28

What is the point in bilding new stations on the line from London to South Wales if you haven’t got good roads to get to them. With the Welsh Governments plans on roads it is not going to happen

Geoff Isaac|22.03.23|09:37

What is the point in bidding new stations in South Wales on the main line between London and Cardiff if you haven’t got good roads to get to them. With the Welsh Governments planning on roads it will will not not happen

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