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Enhancing active mobility in uncertain times – a Q&A with Arcadis Wales

7 min

Named one of the winners of Transport for Wales’s sustainability transport infrastructure last year, the team at Arcadis Wales is keen on greenifying the mobility sector; and improving the quality of lives using transport. Quadrant Transport sits down for a Q&A with business director Tom Constantine and senior technical director Janice Hughes to find out more

Could you tell us a little about the work of Arcadis since lockdown and the projects your team is looking forward to for 2021? 

A: We work across Wales for the Welsh Government, Transport for Wales and Local Authorities on a wide range of transport projects.  During lockdown we have continued to lead on transport strategies and WelTAG studies for Local Authorities, as well as delivering significant rail enhancement schemes such as the design of Taff’s Well depot in support of BAM as part of the Core Valley Lines programme, and multiple bridge renewals across Wales for Network Rail.

Thomas Constantine, Business Director (Rail – Western & Wales) at Arcadis

The focus of our projects has been multi modal transport solutions, including active travel improvements, bus networks and interchange improvements. We have developed outline business cases for a number of new stations in north, mid and south Wales and supported funding bids.   All of this has been achieved whilst working remotely and using virtual engagement.  Our team in Wales is also busy supporting large scale infrastructure schemes across the rest of the UK including HS2 and other major rail enhancement programmes

Looking into 2021 we see a strong pipeline of transportation infrastructure projects throughout the UK and look forward to continuing our involvement in the CVL programme and assisting TfW in the development of proposals for the North Wales area.

Thomas and Janice will be presenting during Peloton’s Wales Transport Week on 30 September. Click here to register for free!

Arcadis was one of the winners on Transport for Wales’s £700m sustainable transport infrastructure contracts last year – could you detail what Arcadis’ role will be in the future of Welsh rail, its challenges, and overall goals for the company? 

A: Arcadis are part of both the STRIDE and Engineering Consultancy Services frameworks for TfW, and also work closely with construction organisations supporting the physical delivery of the works, so are well embedded in the development of Welsh infrastructure.

The policies and goals of Welsh Government, and requirements of Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and Active Travel Act provide a clear case for investment in public transport and active travel in Wales, and we are working closely with TfW and local authorities in the development of these plans.

Taff’s Well depot. c. Transport for Wales

Arcadis’ values align closely with the aims of TfW; we are committed to improving quality of life through enhancing mobility, making best use of our natural resources, and creating spaces where people want to live, work, and play.  We’re excited to rise to the specific challenges in Wales around creating the business cases for investment, developing schemes in North Wales, supporting the delivery of the Core Valley Lines upgrades, and asset transfer from Network Rail.

By rising to these challenges and building the future of Welsh public transport and active travel, we can encourage people out of their cars, connect communities, and provide better access to social and employment opportunities as part of a lower carbon future.

Next week at Peloton’s Wales Transport Week Arcadis will be producing a presentation of its approach to Metro projects. With major investment, what are the transformational effects of a fully-established metro system in Wales, taking into account job creation, wider GVA, and encouraging sustainable use of transport from the public? 

A: Investment in ‘Metro’ provides the opportunity to not just consider single transport projects, but through a coordinated programme, to integrate transport services into a more efficient and accessible network that brings a significant step change in benefits for the region compared to single projects.

Janice Hughes, Senior Technical Director – Strategic Planning and Infrastructure, Arcadis

For North Wales, the development of a Metro is key to taking a regional approach to transport and recognising the economic connectivity between north east Wales and Liverpool, Manchester, Chester and other parts of the north west of England.  The Moving North Wales Forward document by Welsh Government back in 2017 gave a vision for a metro in north east and north Wales. This recognised the economic opportunity, and cross border benefits that a Metro could bring to the region, providing better access to jobs and businesses in Deeside, Wrexham and the north Wales coast.  Mark Barry’s report ‘The Case for Rail Investment in Wales’, sets out the strategic case for improving the North Wales Mainline and Borderlands Line as part of the Metro concept.

Without an integrated and efficient network, providing easy access to jobs and services from our communities in Wales, people are unlikely to make the change from the drive to school, work or shop. On the strategic level, with the wider investment in the rail network of HS2 and Transport for the North, it is vital that services in north Wales are linked into this to maximise the economic benefits for Wales.

Arcadis recently signed a letter calling on an EU 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of at least 55%, in a bid for the EU to become a climate-neutral continent by 2050. How can investments in sustainable transport in Wales help to facilitate this, in your belief? 

A: Investment in walking, cycling and public transport networks in Wales will help to reduce vehicle use which will reduce the carbon impacts of travel. Sustainable travel investment is an integral part of effective land use planning. We believe in the creation of connected communities, where key services and facilities are within 15 minutes of people’s homes and are leading on the development of garden settlements and healthy towns across the UK based on this principle.

South Wales Metro network, part of the £1.2bn City Region Plan c. Transport for Wales

Provision for low carbon and electric vehicles is part of the approach and we are supporting private and public clients in rolling out charging infrastructure. It is important that the carbon impacts of construction of transport infrastructure is also considered, and we are working with our clients on carbon tools to understand and appraise the implications of different investments.

Has the Coronavirus pandemic changed the approach of your team’s wider approach to public transport, and the demands of the travelling public? If so, to what extent and how?  

A: We help guide our clients in the planning for the long term, and investments in public transport are typically long-lead programmes spanning many years.  The case for improved public transportation infrastructure throughout Wales is not in question, but Arcadis and our clients do need to be alert to rapidly changing trends in how people currently travel, and how they may want to travel in the future.

The case for improved public transportation infrastructure throughout Wales is not in question

We anticipate long-term changes to people’s working patterns, and business cases for investment need to take these into account.  We see there will be an increasing focus on active travel. As well as a likely long-term increase in home working, we foresee the job market expanding beyond traditional commuting boundaries.  This will enhance the need for flexible mobility solutions that offer a great customer experience.

What does success look like for Arcadis Wales in 2021?

A: Success will be delivering innovative and integrated solutions for our clients in Wales, leading to better travel options and real improvements for our communities. It will be working collaboratively with our clients to help them and the Welsh public emerge from the impacts of the pandemic.