Improving Mid Wales Transport
Updated: February 2024
Since I was elected to the Welsh Parliament, I have been campaigning for better transport infrastructure for Montgomeryshire. Good transport connections are key to improving the local economy which is why I actively campaigned for the Newtown bypass and continue to campaign for other important road improvement schemes as well as improving road safety. It is reported that sadly Powys has one of the highest road accident rates leading to someone being killed or seriously injured on our roads per 100,000 population and the reason I continue to call for road safety improvements.
Dyfi Bridge, Machynlleth
The new Dyfi bridge opened in February and is already making a significant difference. The old bridge was never designed to carry the current volume of traffic and was often closed due to frequent flooding causing traffic to take a diversion of up to 30 miles.
The new Dyfi bridge is improving the reliability of crossing the River Dyfi, which is so important in terms of accessing key services including healthcare, employment opportunities and education for the people of Machynlleth and the surrounding areas.
The campaign for a Pant-Llanymynech bypass remains an important road improvement and safety scheme. Both the UK Government and Welsh Government have given commitments to the Pant/Llanymynech bypass and are working together to progress the scheme. Highways England are leading on the project development in consultation with Welsh Government transport officials.
A bypass study has been commissioned and is currently being considered by the UK Government for inclusion in the National Highways Road Investment Programme for a delivery of new road schemes from April 2025 – March 2030.
I continue to raise the scheme in the Senedd with the Minister on a regular basis. Craig Williams MP and I continue to raise this important scheme.
Schemes at Caersws
There are other smaller road schemes proposed to resolve traffic flow and safety concerns including at Moat Lane crossing near Caersws with a proposed roundabout replacing the current junction. Also in Caersws, along with County Councillor Les George and others, I have been promoting a new footbridge over the river. The current bridge is dangerous for pedestrians crossing. Work to progress this scheme has been slow and has been hampered along with other smaller schemes due to Welsh Government putting a hold on the building of all new schemes subject to their review.
I have also raised the safety of the pedestrian crossing by the crossroads with the Minister, Whilst progress has also been slow, I am pleased the Minister has agreed to undertake a safety assessment of the pedestrian crossing.
During 2023 I pressed both the First Minister and the Minister responsible for Transport on schemes at Caersws. The First Minister confirmed to me that the Moat Lane junction and pedestrian crossing across the river schemes will continue to develop, and that some of the more recent recommendations that include additional safety and active travel elements will need to be planned into the project, he did further point out that like all schemes, it inevitably has to meet the same tests as any other road scheme, and then of affordability. In my most recent update from the Minister in November, he confirmed to me that the proposed road safety improvement schemes were included in the National transport Delivery Plan, and that his officials are undertaken further work, this work should be completed by April 2024. The Minister has informed me that an engagement event will then be held locally.
Road Improvements at A458 Middletown
There have sadly been a number of accidents on the A458 Welshpool to Shrewsbury road, including a fatal accident towards the end of 2023. This road needs to be made safer and I believe there is a need for a scheme for this route.
This is an issue that I have taken up with the Welsh Government Minister and with local Police regarding this stretch of road. I have called for Welsh Government Highways officials to meet with me along with key representatives on site to discuss safety improvements including additional signage, extending the no overtaking double lines and an increased Police and speed camera van presence. I will continue to call for these road safety improvements and will continue to work with Cllr Amanda Jenner in making this section of road safer for all.
A44 Llangurig to Aberystwyth
I will continue to call for safety improvements along this route which has one of the worst accident records in the UK. Welsh Government have at last recognised the need for improvements due to issues such as road safety, junction efficiency and the overall condition of the road. In November, an update from the Minister to me confirmed that Welsh Government officials are expecting to complete a study by April. I hope to have further news in the Spring. I will continue to work to make sure ministers see improving this stretch of road, through to the end.
Road Collapse at Talerddig
Earlier in 2023 I raised the need for repair works to be carried out on the Trunk Road at Talerddig. Following the road collapse in November, I raised this urgently with the Minister to carry out urgent repairs to reopen the road. I am pleased work was carried out to enable the road to be reopened under traffic management. I have since taken this important trunk road issue up again with the Minister whereby he has confirmed to me they intend the permanent solution to be ready for construction April / May subject to funding. I will keep the pressure on Welsh Government to prioritise the permanent repairs needed to allow the road to be opened fully to two-way traffic.
A Better Rail Service
Sadly, the rail service we receive in Montgomeryshire continues to be poor with trains regularly being cancelled, delayed or overcrowded. I have been continually raising concerns about the performance of Transport for Wales on the Cambrian Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury line and have been seeking assurances over commitments made by Transport for Wales and the Welsh Government.
A new fleet of trains is being built for the Cambrian Line to run on the unique signalling system, unfortunately there have been delays, and I am told this due to problems with the supply of components compatible with this signalling system. New trains are now due to be running by next Winter. I am assured these trains will deliver increased capacity for passengers and will also run with faster acceleration, allowing services to meet the timetable more reliably. I continue to raise the frustration of this poor service and seek assurances that the new trains will indeed deliver a better service for us locally and I will press upon Transport for Wales to introduce these new trains as soon as they possibly can.
I have also been pleased to support plans to improve accessibility at Newtown train station, as part of the Department for Transport funded Access for All programme. The project will see a significant investment in the railway in Newtown with the installation of a brand-new fully accessible footbridge and lifts, linking platforms one and two. Accessibility benefits people of all ages and helps to promote the use of the rail network by reducing carbon emissions and the reliance on car journeys.