The M4 relief road

No one disputes that the Bryn Glas tunnels are a bottleneck – but there are major disagreements over what precisely needs to be done.

The Welsh government wants a completely new road through the south of Newport, costing over £1 billion. Others think it would be better to improve Newport’s southern distributor roads. The technical options for a new M4 are examined in

In my lifetime I have seen hundreds of miles of motorways built. My subjective impression is that they do ease congestion for the first 1-2 years – but then this encourages more vehicles to the road and journey times revert.

My preference would be, if the Welsh government has $1 billion to throw around, to make a massive investment in better public transport (such as the proposed South Wales metro system) to reduce the number of cars on our roads. Transport Their choice of the very expensive £1 billion road option is, naturally, preferred by the powerful roads’ lobby who have influenced the UK’s transport policy ever since the first motorway was opened in 1957. But journey times have hardly improved at all during the past half-century.

I believe it’s time for a rethink and reversion to public transport.


Renationalise all public services

Public opinion polls consistently show 70-80% support for the railways to be renationalised but the establishment parties (and UKIP) all ignore public opinion on this matter. When Caroline Lucas, the truly excellent Green MP for Brighton, tabled a Bill in Parliament to do so, she only received a smattering of support in Parliament.

Her arguments and those of other campaigners, are well argued on this YouTube video

I have three points to add. When our railways were denationalised, it was claimed this would improve services, cut fares and reduce public subsidies. The first two claims are obviously absurd – the third also false but the current £1+ billion/year subsidy is hidden from easy view.

The way it now works is that the government subsidises the non-profit-making railways and infrastructure whilst privately-owned companies receive the fares. After paying Network Rail an unrealistic low cost for using the railways, the companies then have enough left over to pay dividends to their shareholders.

In effect, denationalisation is a con trick in which government money subsidises the railway network so that the private companies can profit. It’s yet another instance of “us” (the passengers) being fleeced to support “them” (the shareholders).

Similar financial arrangements have enabled the utility companies to profit whilst us consumers pay more and more. The Conservative-initiated nationalisation of public utilities is simply a mechanism by which a rich share-holding minority accrue wealth at our expense.