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The side of an electric car charging with blue sky and green grass, with the caption 'Latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show there were 39,315 new battery electric vehicle registrations during March 2022, compared to 37,850 in the whole of 2019.'

A look at the transport industry in April

The Department for Transport announced its Great British Rail sale this month with approximately 628,000 tickets sold in the first week. Just how effective these tickets are in reducing costs is still up for debate with critics claiming they are only available for unpopular journeys or that they only cover a very small number of overall trips. What is certain is the government recognises the price of rail has skyrocketed in the past few decades, and something needs to be done to remedy this. 

Buses remain in the spotlight with the announcement of the Local Authorities successful in securing funding from the Bus Back Better plan introduced last year. As with most major funding announcements there were winners and losers. Thirty-one authorities produced successful Bus Service Improvement Plans across England including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and the Liverpool City region. However, this means 46 authorities, many of which were rural, missed out on significant funding.  

Transport for London (TfL) confirmed the reintroduction of the night service on the Jubilee line on Fridays and Saturdays from the 21st May. The Jubilee will become the third crucial line to operate night services with the Northern and Piccadilly returning this summer. For many the night Tube acts as the only legitimate option to safely travel home, especially in the face of rising Uber prices. TfL should look to expand these services as much as possible to allow Londoners to travel home safely and improve travel options for night-time workers.

Below we take a look in more detail at what’s been happening in our core policy areas of transport and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Follow us on twitter and LinkedIn or sign up to our mailing list to keep up to date with our analysis of key industry topics. If you need help with any of these policy areas, or anything else, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Active travel
Public transport
Buses
Rail
E-Mobility
E-Vehicles
E-Scooters
E-Bikes
Roads
Air Quality
Decarbonisation
Aviation
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Active travel

  • When speaking at the annual conference of the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Public Health, the government’s chief medical officer for England, Sir Chris Whitty, has said people should be encouraged to incorporate walking or cycling into their daily lives to help combat obesity and that exercise is among the most effective ways of improving health.
  • A new survey by Ipsos shows public backing for actions by the government to encourage cycling and public transport, however the study also finds strong attachment to car use and ownership, as well as weakening support for schemes that charge motorists more for road use to improve the environment. 
    • 44% of respondents say they would like to cycle more than they do.
    • 71% say they support actions to encourage more people to walk or cycle instead of driving a car.
    • The same proportion (71%) also feel they need a car to suit their current lifestyle.
    • While there is more support (45%) than opposition (33%) for schemes charging road users a fee to drive around towns and cities, support has weakened since 2020.

Public transport

  • Night Tube services will return to the Jubliee line on Fridays and Saturdays from the evening of Saturday 21st May, joining the Central and Victoria Lines, which resumed Night Tube services in November 2021. Services on the Northern and Picadilly lines will return later in the summer.
  • TfL has celebrated the fifth anniversary of its world-leading ‘Please Offer me a Seat’ badge. Almost 100,000 badges have been given to disabled people and those with invisible conditions since the scheme started in 2017.

Elsewhere in public transport this month:

Buses

  • Thirty-one counties, city regions and unitary authorities have been chosen for funding to level-up their local bus services in the latest awards from the government’s bus transformation programme. Areas including Portsmouth, Stoke-on-Trent and Greater Manchester will receive a share of to help deliver on their Bus Service Improvement Plans.
  • Research by transport charity, Campaign for Better Transport, has found almost 5,000 bus routes (more than one in four) have been cut in England in the last decade. The north-west and east of England are the two regions worst affected.
  • Transport provider, Stagecoach, has confirmed the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus will take to the roads of Scotland for the first time. In partnership with Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland, Stagecoach will be carrying out on-road testing without passengers over the coming weeks, in preparation for the launch of the pilot service in late summer. 

Rail

  • HS2 has revealed a new approach that will see every major element of its Thame Valley viaduct prefabricated before being assembled on site, cutting its carbon footprint by two-thirds and simplifying construction. The viaduct will carry HS2 trains at speeds of up to 360km/h between London, Birmingham and the North.
  • The government has announced £7.6m of funding available for cutting-edge technology that will help transform rail travel. Rail Minister Wendy Morton has officially announced this year’s First of a Kind competition, which invites bids from companies specialising in innovative ways to modernise railways.
  • The UK rail industry has joined together to facilitate sending more than a million items of aid to Ukraine in response to the humanitarian crisis in the region. The first aid train left the UK on a special DB cargo service bound for Ukraine earlier this month.
  • Network Rail has confirmed 67% of its suppliers are now signed up to the Science Based Targets initiative to reduce their carbon footprint. Science Based Targets form a key part of Network Rail’s comprehensive Environmental Sustainability Strategy, which sets out a clear pathway to a better, greener railway for Britain.
  • Scotrail is increasing the number of cycle spaces on its trains to encourage tourists, cycling fans, outdoor pursuits enthusiasts and local commuters to use the train instead of cars. In 2015 there were 932 cycle spaces on trains, whereas now there are 1,406, with a further 100 spaces to be installed by the end of August.
  • Over one million rail tickets have been discounted by up to 50% as the government and rail industry launched the first of its kind Great British Rail Sale. Discounted tickets are available on journeys from 25th April to 27th May to help ease some of the pressure on family finances.
  • The Samaritans’ partnership with Network Rail and the wider rail industry has seen more than 25,000 staff being trained to identify and help vulnerable people since it began in 2010. Samaritans has run around 1900 courses across Britain, to give rail employees the confidence and skills to look out for vulnerable people.
  • The Railway Industry Association (RIA) has published a new report, A Rail Innovation Strategy, calling for the sector to be more radical and overcome barriers to innovation, including supporting the vital rollout phase ahead of the transition to Great British Railways. This comes after RIA published a survey of industry professionals which found procurement processes remain the biggest barrier to innovation. 

E-Mobility

E-Vehicles

  • Duku, a Cheltenham-based product design company, has unveiled the UK’s first EV charger developed with older and disabled drivers in mind. The design and research supports the BSI standards and includes patented features such as a motorised cable drum to automatically coil and uncoil the cable, and a crash resistant base.
  • According to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, there were more electric vehicles bought in the UK in March alone than in the whole of 2019. There were 39,315 new battery electric vehicle registrations during March, compared to 37,850 in 2019.
  • Earlier this month the DfT issued monthly statistics on the total number of electric vehicle public charging devices available in the UK:
    • Number of total devices – 30,290 – an increase of 707 since last month
    • Number of rapid devices – 5,494 – an increase of 76 since last month
  • Under new laws planned by the government, rapid charging networks for electric vehicles will need to have a 99% reliability rate. In a move that will come into force next year, it is hoped this will help accelerate the adoption of EVs across the UK.
  • The world’s first portable EV charging infrastructure has been unveiled by ZipCharge. The GoHub is a revolution in public charging provision, providing a community-based solution that can be installed anywhere, at a much lower cost and a much faster rate, while enabling any parking space to become a charging spot.

E-Scooters

  • Sunderland City Council has announced the expansion of the city’s e-scooter trial, trebling the size of the current zone, and covering a further 6.2 square kilometres of riding area. 
  • Oxford County Council has announced the extension of its e-scooter trial until November. So far residents have taken almost 210,000 journeys and travelled more than 310,000 miles.
  • Cheshire West and Chester Council’s e-scooter trial has now been extended until 30th November. Since the trial was introduced in December 2021, the initial 40 e-scooters has increased to 172 available e-scooters, and over 45 dockless parking bays at various key locations.

E-Bikes

  • A major expansion of Leicester’s e-bike scheme is getting underway, with 30 new bike docks and 330 additional cycles being added to the fleet. Since the lifting of lockdown restrictions in April last year, the e-bike share scheme has reportedly been used by more than 19,000 people, with almost 47,500 trips made on the electric bikes.

Roads

  • The government has announced £20m of funding to improve roadside facilities for HGV drivers. The funding will be allocated to improve security, lighting and shower rooms at roadside services to help retain HGV drivers. 
  • The M6 Toll has been crowned Britain’s best motorway. The 26-mile, six lane motorway in the West Midlands, was chosen by 32% of 100 HGV drivers polled, and narrowly beat the M25 and M40 in a new poll by motorway service operator, Roadchef. The survey also found that 95% of HGV drivers think Britain is home to the best motorways in the world.
  • The government has announced plans to introduce autonomous vehicles to British roads within months. Under the new rules, drivers stuck in traffic jams will be able to view content that is not related to driving on built-in display screens, while the self-driving vehicle is in control. Ministers believe vehicles with automatic lane-keeping systems could pass safety tests and be approved for use at slow speeds in heavy motorway traffic before the end of the year.
  • The government has confirmed planned changes to the Highway Code to ensure the first self-driving vehicles are introduced safely on UK roads. Changes clarify drivers’ responsibilities, including when a driver must be ready to take back control. Future technology could help improve and level up transport, easing congestion, cutting emissions and reducing collisions caused by human error. 

Air Quality

  • New data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows almost the entire global population (99%) breathes air that exceeds WHO air quality limits. A record number of over 6000 cities in 117 countries are now monitoring air quality, but the people living in them are still breathing unhealthy levels of fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide.
  • Monitoring data from air quality tracker, Airly, during the month of March, found significant increases in air pollution across Europe, with Newcastle featuring at the top of the list for highest NO2 levels. The rise in pollution was influenced by a Sahara Desert dust storm that travelled across Europe last month. 
  • A new study led by natural daily nasal wash, Otrivine Natural, has found six in ten UK classrooms have worse air quality than traffic-filled roads. The study used digital pollution monitors and found high levels of volatile organic compounds, fine dust, and liquid droplets inside British school buildings. 

Decarbonisation 

  • The Department for Transport has released its promised local authority decarbonisation toolkit, providing advice on how to reduce transport carbon emissions across a range of areas. The suite of documents covers:
    • Active travel
    • Car clubs
    • Decarbonising road freight, servicing and deliveries
    • Demand responsive transport
    • Lift sharing
    • Transport in rural areas
    • Zero emissions buses

Aviation

  • Birmingham Airport has published its roadmap towards becoming a net zero carbon airport by 2033. The plan builds on a decade of learning and investments that have already seen emissions, which the airport controls, reduced by 33%. This has been achieved through the use of solar, electric vehicle transition and energy-efficiency measures. 
  • A new Zero Emission Flight Delivery Group has been launched to focus on the latest innovations in aviation and decarbonisation technology. The new steering group will be made up of aviation experts across industry and government and will help position the UK at the forefront of the global shift to green aviation by supporting the development of zero emission aircraft and airport infrastructure.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

  • The amount of notice disabled passengers must give when booking Passenger Assistance for rail journeys has been reduced to 2 hours ahead of departure. This is an improvement on the previous 6-hour window required for assistance such as a manual boarding ramp or sight-guiding.
  • A new Bill to tackle misogyny is being considered by Scottish Ministers as part of the Scottish Government’s official response to the independent working group on misogyny. The group’s report recommended a number of new offences to criminalise specific forms of misogynistic conduct, including stirring up hatred against women and public sexual harassment of women.
  • The Financial Conduct Authority has finalised rules requiring listed companies to report information and disclose against targets on the representation of women and ethnic minorities on their boards and executive management. This approach sets positive diversity targets for listed companies. If they cannot meet them, they need to explain why not.

We hope you found this roundup interesting and informative. 

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