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The word January with magnifying glass

Following the end of the Brexit transition period on 31st December, the New Year has brought some changes for the transport sector. 

The two areas most critically impacted are those which predominantly cross borders: aviation and freight. While there are changes ahead for companies that export into the EU, the UK has agreed a 12-month grace period with the EU for ‘rules of origin’ paperwork. In aviation, the UK-EU trade deal includes agreements on air transport and aviation safety. To ensure stability for both passengers and businesses, all current substantive EU requirements have been retained in UK domestic regulation. All European Union Aviation Safety Agency certificates, approvals and licences will continue to be recognised by the Civil Aviation Authority for up to two years.

Although Britain has now left the EU, our departure will likely continue to be felt long after, as policy is delivered and legislation amended.

Aside from Brexit, figures this month released from from the Apple Maps app show pedestrians, motorists and people using public transport are moving around more again. Walking is now down just 30% on pre-pandemic figures, compared to 70% down at the start of the first lockdown. Driving is now down 40% on pre-pandemic figures, compared to 70% in the first lockdown. And public transport use is down 70% on pre-pandemic figures, compared to 85% in the first lockdown.

Below we take a look in more detail at what’s been happening in our core policy areas of transport and diversity.

Active Travel
Public Transport
Buses
Rail
E-mobility
Electric Vehicles
E-Scooters
E-Bikes
Diversity

Active Travel

There are many active travel projects continuing throughout the UK at the moment. The growing trend in walking and cycling is continuing and is shown in some of the results we’ve highlighted below.

  • Glasgow City Council has reported an 80% increase in the number of people cycling into the city centre over the past two years. This is due to the largest cycling infrastructure project of its kind being carried out in the city.
  • Work has begun to create a new segregated cycle lane as part of the Connecting Leeds scheme. The scheme aims to create 500 miles of safer cycling routes throughout the city, and is part of a £6.9m package of new infrastructure.
  • The Greater Cambridge Partnership has announced this month that over 2,500 people have responded to public consultations asking for their views on projects that would vastly improve walking, cycling and public transport journeys in the city and surrounding areas.
  • West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee has reported an ongoing increase during 2020 of the number of people using walking and cycling routes. The report reveals that in November, the number of weekend cycle journeys on the Canal Road cycleway was up by over 90%, compared to November 2019.
  • Electronic cycle counters installed along many of Swansea’s cycle routes have shown the number of users has more than tripled during 2020 compared to previous years.
  • Transport for London has announced it is going ahead with permanent measures to make Streatham Hill safer for walking and cycling, following a public consultation where 83% of respondents agreed to proposals including segregated cycle lanes, new pedestrian crossings and reduced speed limits.
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust has become the first hospital in the UK to be awarded gold by Cycling UK’s Cycle Friendly Employer Scheme. The gold award recognises the hospital’s work to foster a culture of sustainable travel among its 5,000 employees.

Public transport

Public transport company, Go Ahead Group, has recently reported that apprenticeship applications have doubled in rail and jumped by a third in buses, as the transport sector has attracted career switchers. Recruits to the Group during 2020 included a former airline pilot, a prison van driver and a guitar instructor. Go Ahead Group said it recruited more than 50 apprentices a month during 2020, despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Buses

  • The first hydrogen powered double-decker buses have entered service in Northern Ireland. The three new Hydrogen Fuel Cell Buses emit only water and will be 100% powered by green renewable wind energy. They will operate on Translink Metro services across Belfast.
  • The Secretary of State for Transport announced earlier this month that Coventry and Oxford are developing proposals to become the first parts of the UK to run all-electric bus services. Subject to successful business cases, each area could be awarded up to £50m to replace its entire fleet of buses with all-electric versions, as well as installing new infrastructure.
  • Transport for London has announced that London buses now meet Ultra Low Emission Zone emissions standards across the entire city. The main bus network now exclusively uses Euro VI or cleaner buses.
  • The Scottish Government has announced that an additional £25m is being made available through a second round of the Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme.
  • Following consultation, the Scottish Government is making preparations to extend free bus travel to all young people under the age of 19 who live in Scotland.

Rail

  • Light rail solutions developer, Ultra Light Rail Partners, has received a £60,000 Innovate UK grant to develop a feasibility study and design for a 120 passenger biomethane-powered lightweight railcar for use in the West Midlands. The design will focus on Covid-19 safety, as well as featuring ultraviolet lights and heavily-filtered air flow.
  • Scotland could see what is claimed to be its first hydrogen-powered train running during COP26 in Glasgow during November. Arcola Energy and a consortium, including the global engineering consultancy Arup, will convert a car passenger train into a hydrogen train.
  • Also in Scotland, it’s been reported the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway is at the heart of a new hydrogen-powered train project. A retired Class 314 train will be converted to a hydrogen-powered model – a cleaner, greener alternative to diesel for non-electrified routes.
  • Rail Operations UK has reached a framework agreement with Swiss manufacturer Stadler for the delivery of 30 Class 93 tri-mode locomotives, to help achieve goals of rail decarbonisation in the UK. The new trains will cut down COemissions for rail freight and potential passenger transport services. 

E-mobility

The e-mobility industry has seen some very positive news this month, with the production of the first ever electric battery capable of being fully charged in just 5 minutes.
 

Electric Vehicles

  • Figures released this month by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders show the sale of Electric Vehicles in the UK during 2020 increased by 186%, despite an overall drop of new car registrations by almost 30%.
  • The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, hit his target of installing 300 electric vehicle rapid charging points across the capital before the end of 2020. This increases London’s total number of charging points to almost 6,000.
  • Suffolk’s aspiration to become the greenest county has led to the creation of 100 new fast charging points for electric cars in communities across the county, thanks to a £300,000 grant from the Suffolk 2020 fund.
  • A survey conducted by online comparison site, Uswitch, of over 1,000 drivers has revealed the biggest concern when it comes to driving an electric vehicle is the number of local, accessible charging points, followed by the cost to buy an electric car.
  • Network operator, UK Power Networks has launched a pilot that will see it partner with local authorities to identify EV charge point blackspots in Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Norwich City Council, Norfolk County Council and the London Borough of Redbridge areas.

E-Scooters 

Many more towns and cities throughout the UK have been linked with e-scooter trials during January. As well as this, the West of England Combined Authority and Voi technology have announced the launch of their long-term rental scheme, as part of the region’s e-scooter trials. This means people across Bristol and South Gloucestershire will soon be able to rent an e-scooter and take it home for an extended period of time.

The following places have this month either announced, launched or are consulting on e-scooter trials:

  • Southampton
  • Winchester
  • Portsmouth
  • Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
  • Scunthorpe
  • Bath (operating area being expanded)
  • Headington (will be a test area for Oxford)
  • Richmond Upon Thames
  • York (operating area being expanded)
  • Fort William
  • Bournemouth
  • Poole

E-Bikes

  • Residents in Kettering are now able to hire e-bikes in the town, alongside the existing e-scooter hire trial. Kettering is now one of the first town’s in the UK to offer Voi’s multi-modal offer to its residents, giving them two new flexible and carbon neutral transport options.

Diversity

  • The 2021 New Year Honours list has recognised several leading figures in the transport industry, with diversity and inclusion standing out as a key theme. Those receiving recognition include Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of Great Western Railway; Deborah Francis, MD of Direct Rail Services; and Martin Frobisher, group safety and engineering director for Network Rail’s technical authority.
  • A survey carried out by broadband network operator, Openreach, found that biased language in some job adverts deters as many as one in two women from applying. The company found that women’s interest in applying for an engineering job increased by more than 200% when changes were made to language in an advert.