Connecting Hereford. March 2020
Updated: Aug 31, 2021
This seven-page HSTG report re examines the case for the development of an ultra-light rail route on the old railway line connecting the south of the river with the centre. The possibility was first put forward in the HSTG Report ‘Sustainable Public Transport for Hereford’ published in July 2019.
This report begins:
Time rushes by for Herefordshire as climate change, air quality, health of the nation and the need to cater for mobility without the use of a private car now assume far greater importance than stretching tons of tarmac into the countryside. The role of roads and a so-called bypass have themselves been bypassed in a fundamental change of thinking and transport priorities.
It was back in 2015 that the Hereford MP, Jesse Norman quoted the Highways Agency in a letter to the then Council when he stated ‘Indeed the Highways Agency noted in August 2014 that the building of new road infrastructure could only be justified in policy terms when other avenues such as travel planning and sustainable travel modes have been developed and shown not to address transport needs and issues identified.’
Mr Norman went on to say ‘Herefordshire Council’s own traffic forecasts demonstrate that when the Southern Link Road (SLR) is operational: the average daily volume of vehicles going over the Greyfriars Bridge will be unchanged’ (source: Letter from House of Commons in response to public consultation on the SLR). Also of interest is the fact that money was allocated to the SLR by the Marches Local Enterprise Board without a proper cost benefit analysis and business plan. This is surprising in this day and age of accountability in public spending. The Marches LEP have been quick to withdraw the money when the present council announced a ‘pause and review’ of major road schemes and a proper assessment of sustainable transport. Perhaps Herefordshire has woken up. The present Council does appear far more progressive than the last.
The report goes on to examine a light rail scheme and also asks ‘Why not Electric Bus services’, concluding that: The biggest disadvantage of bus services is that they have to share road space with other users. Unless there is extensive provision of bus lanes or bus ways, priority at traffic lights and purpose-built attractive termini with built in electricity charging pads or gantries, the bus will remain at a disadvantage in terms of securing the same level of modal change as light rail. Investment in quality bus services in the UK has been shown to deliver much lower levels of mode-shift from the car. Ultra-Light Rail provides a modern attractive image compared to the bus.
The full report is available as a pdf: