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Mean on Sunday

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By Ian Mean

Business West Gloucestershire director and vice chair GFirstLEP

For far too long, quick and efficient transport has been a major problem in our region.

That’s why I really welcome a new rail vision from the Western Gateway Partnership for how train services in Western England and South Wales should look by 2050.

This new vision shows how the area could nearly halve current journey times in between cities in the area and drastically improve journeys to London and elsewhere in the UK.

The vision will be costly, of course, with up to £8billion spent with a raft of new stations, services and connections in the West of England and South Wales.

That would include cutting the journey time between Bristol and Cardiff to just half an hour with four trains an hour between the two cities.

Katharine Bennett, chair of the Western Gateway, says: “Our area has so much to offer. With 14 of the 15 largest aerospace manufacturers based here and home to the largest group of high-tech cyber businesses in Europe, we are ready to deliver a greener, fairer future for the whole of the UK and beyond”.

Katharine is right.

A new, positive vision for rail is vital for our region’s journey to Net Zero and the development of new homes and localised jobs.

We should also remember that our young people are not all keen on car ownership and need to rely on a better train service.

Several years ago, you may remember that the county council’s 2050 vision project included a survey of 5 000 young people.

Overwhelmingly, that survey showed their concerns about transport-buses as well as train frequency-particularly in Gloucestershire’s rural areas.

On a separate subject, readers of this column may be interested in the 50/50 campaign started by GFirstLEP and the county council.

Well, last week it was given the thumbs up by employment minister Guy Opperman when he visited a jobs fair in Gloucester organised by the city’s MP, Richard Graham and the Department of Work and Pensions.

Our idea is to get 50 employers to offer 50 hours of work placement to 50 people aged over 50.

Perhaps the minister can take this Gloucestershire idea on board nationally?

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