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Coachways vision policy context in North West England

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While there are no specific policies on express coach services in the most recent Regional Transport Strategy for the North West (Government office for the North West 2008) although there are tentative indications that express bus or coach services may have a potential role to play.

With respect to the wider public transport network, there is recognition that "opportunities for the physical expansion of public transport, especially with regards to heavy and light rail, are restricted by the high cost of providing new infrastructure, and the limited funding available for local bus services" (Government Office for the North West 2008 page 76); indicating that road based inter-urban public transport could provide a more flexible, cost effective alternative. Indeed, the strategy recommends that "proposals and schemes to enhance [public transport] services in the corridors identified in Appendix RT(a) [see Transport geography below] should include priority measures to improve journey time reliability" (Government Office for the North West 2008 page 75).

Improving connectivity between the North West's three city regions (Liverpool, Manchester and Central Lancashire) is also an important priority in regional planning in the North West. In this regard, the strategy recommends that public transport plans, should seek to make "best use of existing resources to ensure that corridors which connect city regions and those that provide links within them continue to function effectively and are improved in such a way as to make public transport a viable and attractive alternative to the private car" (Government Office for the North West 2008 page 76).

This theme of improving connectivity between the North West's city regions is reinforced in the recent "Implementing Delivering a Sustainable Transport System and the North West Regional Strategy" report (Atkins 2009). Again, although express coaches are not mentioned explicitly, in recommending a further study into city region connectivity, the report provides tentative indications that they could play a role along the following 3 corridors:

  • Liverpool to Manchester: This corridor includes the "intermediate towns" of St Helens, Widnes, Runcorn, Wigan and Warrington. Improved public transport connectivity is noted as a priority to "reduce the need to travel by car" between Chester and Crewe and Manchester and Liverpool (Atkins 2003, page 45).
  • Preston to Manchester: It is noted that "rail services along the Preston-Bolton-Manchester corridor operate at capacity during peak periods" (Atkins 2003, page 45). And
  • Preston to Liverpool: It is suggested that a further study "should consider all modes but greater focus should be on public transport connectivity by road, rail and combined modes (park and ride)" (Atkins 2003, page 45).

The region's two airports (Manchester and Liverpool) also act as natural hubs for regional coach services. The regional transport strategy adovocates that "airport operators should...set themselves challenging targets for increasing the proportion of journeys made to airports by public transport, cycling and walking in Surface Access Strategies that will reduce dependence on the private car" (Government Office for the North West 2008 page 80).

Contents

History

Regional transport thinking has been influenced by a number of studies that have been undertaken over the last ten years. Of particular relevance are the early South East Manchester, The West Midlands to North West Conurbations and M60 Junction 18 to 12 multi-modal studies which were commisioned by central government after the publication of the 1998 White Paper, a New Deal for Transport (DfT 1998). These tended to advocate additional road capacity to alleviate transport problems in the North West:

  • The West Midlands to North West Conurbations study: "recommended capacity improvements on the M6 Motorway to dual 4 lanes from Junction 11a (Cannock) to Junction 20 (Lymm) with further improvement work to M6 Junction 20" (Highways Agency 2008, page 37).
  • The South East Manchester Multi Modal Study: recommended 3 trunk road schemes - The A6 Stockport North - South Bypass; Manchester Airport Eastern Link Route and the A523 Poynton Bypass (Highways Agency 2008, page 37). These schemes are now being promoted under the South East Manchester Multi Modal Strategy (South East Manchester Multi Modal Strategy 2010).
  • The M60 Junction 18 to 12 study. The M60 is an orbital motorway surrounding Manchester. The study recommended "innovative solutions to segregate local and strategic traffic on M60 over the study length" (Highways Agency 2008, page 37) and these solutions continue to be evaluated.

Following the publication of these studies, the first Regional Transport Strategy was developed within Regional Planning Guidance note 13, which was adopted in March 2003. With respect to inter-urban public transport, the policy focused mainly on delivering improvements to the regional rail network. There was relatively little mention of a potential role for road based, inter-urban public transport, other than in its capacity to improve access to the region's major airports (at Manchester and Liverpool).

Efforts to update the transport strategy were then directed through the development of the statutory, now current Regional Spatial Strategy, which began in 2004. This period saw the formation of a new regional parnership between the North West, Yorkshire and Humber, and the North East regions, badged "The Northern Way". This has encouraged a greater level of collaborative planning between the 3 regions in the north, including advocating improvements to inter-regional transport links.

This period has also seen a shift from Regional Planning to consideration of the importance of so called "city regions". As noted above, transport policies are now focusing on how best to foster links between the 3 city regions in the North West, namely Liverpool, Manchester and Central Lancashire (Preston, South Ribble and Chorley (Central Lancashire 2010)). However, it remains to be seen whether express bus and coach services are identified and promoted as an effective means of improving the inter-urban public transport network across the region.

Regional transport policy timeline

Date Development
November 2001 The South East Manchester Multi Modal Study is published (Highways Agency 2008). This lays the foundation for the South East Manchester Multi Modal Strategy (South East Manchester Multi Modal Strategy 2010).
March 2002 The West Midlands to North West Conurbations Multi-Modal Study is published (Scott Wilson 2002).
January 2003 The M60 Junction 18 to 12 Multi Modal Study is published (the M60 is an orbital motorway around Manchester) (Highways Agency 2008).
March 2003 Regional Planning Guidance for the North West (RPG13) is published (Government Office for the North West 2003). The guidance note contains a new Regional Transport Strategy (Government Office for the North West 2003).
July 2004 Work begins on the development of a new Regional Spatial Strategy (4NW 2010).
January 2006 A Regional Transport Strategy Strategic Framework for Public Transport (North West Public Transport Users Forum 2006) is published. A draft Regional Spatial Strategy is submitted to central government (North West Regional Assembly 2006).
February 2006 A methodology for determining regional transport priorities in the North West (JMP Consulting 2006) is published.
September 2008 The North West of England Plan Regional Spatial Strategy to 2021 is adopted (Government Office for the North West 2008). This contains the latest Regional Transport Strategy.
June 2009 A report entitled "Implementing Delivering a Sustainable Transport System and the North West Regional Strategy" is published (Atkins 2009).

Recently completed coach schemes

No coach network related schemes have recently been completed.

Coach schemes currently in progress

There are no coach network related schemes currently in progress.

Coach scheme proposals

There are no known coach scheme proposals in the region.

Coach scheme aspirations

Express bus service enhancement on the A56/M66 corridor (Burnley to Manchester): Identified as a potential intervention to target worklessness in the "Northern Way: Short, Medium and Long Term Priorities" report (Steer Davies Gleave 2007).

Cross Boundary Bus and Coach Travel: A potential scheme to improve connectivity between the three Northern Way regions; The North West, Yorkshire and The Humber and the North East (Steer Davies Gleave 2007).

Improvements to existing express coach services: The strategic framework for public transport (North West Public Transport Users Forum 2006) identified potential improvements to the X61 from Manchester to Preston and the X43 from East Lancashire to Manchester. It also noted potential for a new X52 service to be instated via the M56 from Chester to Manchester.

Transport geography

The Regional Transport Strategy identifies the following public transport corridors (Government office for the North West 2008 Appendix RT):

Public Transport Corridor Key Market Principal Provider(s)
National Corridors: - -
London & the South East / Birmingham / South Wales / South West to Manchester City Region / Liverpool City Region / Crewe – Chester – North Wales / Central Lancashire City Region / Cumbria / Scotland Commuter / Business / Leisure Rail / Express Coach / Charter Coach
Newcastle City Region /Tees Valley City Region / Leeds City Region / Sheffield City Region to Manchester City Region / Liverpool City Region / Chester – North Wales Commuter / Business / Leisure Rail / Express Coach
Links to / from ManchesterAirport Business / Leisure Rail /Local Bus/ Express Coach/ Airlines
Regional Corridors: - -
Links to / from Liverpool Airport Business / Leisure Rail / Local Bus / Airlines
Manchester City Region - Central Lancashire City Region - Cumbria Commuter / Business / Leisure Rail / Express Coach / Local Bus
Liverpool City Region – Central Lancashire City Region - Rail / Express Coach / Local Bus
Central Lancashire City Region – Leeds City Region Commuter / Business / Leisure Rail
West Cumbria – Carlisle – Newcastle City Region Commuter / Business / Leisure Rail / Coach

See also

References

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