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On Thursday 9th November, professionals from across the Highways and Transport industry in Wales convened at the Cardiff University's Postgraduate Teaching Centre to discuss the new direction for transport in Wales. This joint conference, co-organised by ICE, CIHT and CILT, marked the start of a unified and collaborative response from the transport industry to the raising of the bar for future transport projects by Welsh Government.
The conference was opened by Peter Burns, Senior Designer at Arup and Chair for ICE Cymru Wales 2023. The keynote address was delivered by Peter McDonald, Director of Transport and Digital Connectivity for Welsh Government. Peter stepped in for Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, who was scheduled to speak, but unfortunately couldn't make it.
Peter McDonald reiterated that Wales is not cutting back on funding for transport, but simply that projects can expect to be required to meet more rigorous targets for decarbonisation and modal shift. This keynote speech set the tone for the conference and was followed by a robust Q&A session, ranging from concerns about North Wales and the Menai bridge to the 20 mph speed limit. Peter was followed by CIHT Vice President, Glenn Lyons, who imagined that the opening of the M4 in 1971 may have felt like halcyon days providing new access and greater connectivity (economically and socially). But then Glenn showed us the mesmerising and terrible traffic snake in Los Angeles that is 12 lanes wide and questioned whether Wales had dodged that bullet when it scrapped the M4 bypass in 2019. He reminded us that when we shape the transport system, we shape society and that we are now facing a polycrisis and that in order to rise to this challenge as and industry and its professionals we must adapt. A more detailed reflection on the discussion can be found here.
After the break, Transport Focus' David Beer presented on the user perspective of public transportation, particularly focusing on bus patronage and what is essential for the users of public transport and what we can do to establish a successful network. Then Catriona Lewis from Transport for Wales presented lesson learned on navigating change with the TfW strategic programmes and Lewis Barlow, Decarbonisation Technical Director for WSP in the UK & ICE Trustee for Carbon and Climate, delivered a whistlestop tour of PAS2080 and its universal application across all types of transport projects from inception to delivery.
The event was concluded with a summary by Andy Falleyn, Chief Engineer and Deputy Director Strategic Road Network for Welsh Government and a networking lunch. CIHT, ICE & CILT are also delivering a joint CPD series in 2024 with a bimonthly webinar on relevant topics following the conference. These sessions will be announced in due time.
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