Project Beyond Consortium: Update
October 29th 2019
The Project Beyond Consortium (PBC) continues to make good progress. Specific highlights of this update include:
Response to the proposal by UK mobile operators to pool resources to address 4G coverage gaps in rural areas
Participation in Solent Transport’s bid to Department for Transport’s Future Mobility Zone competition
Participation in the Transport for South East strategy consultation
Rural 4G coverage
On October 25th, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) announced its support for a Shared Rural Network (SRN) plan by UK Mobile Operators to deliver 4G mobile coverage to 95% of the UK by 2025, including additional coverage for 16,000km of roads. This will include the sharing of phone masts to improve coverage. Details are here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/1-billion-deal-set-to-solve-poor-mobile-coverage.
Having expressed its concerns regarding mobile coverage to George Freeman MP, Minister of State (Department for Transport) this month, PBC welcomes the prospect of improved coverage for the critical transport infrastructure located in rural areas. According to Ofcom data published in September, only 56% of UK A and B roads had 4G coverage across all mobile operators. This figure was unchanged since September 2018 and presented a barrier to the deployment of connected transport and mobility solutions. The SRN proposal would see each individual operator reach 92% coverage by 2025.
PBC will be approaching the mobile operators and their infrastructure suppliers to explore the deployment and impact assessment of new transport and mobility solutions enabled by the SRN.
Department for Transport (DfT) Future Mobility Zones
Seven areas in England were short-listed as applicants for the DfT’s £90m Future Mobility Zone (FMZ) competition, including the combined cities of Portsmouth and Southampton.
PBC has participated in their Solent FMZ bid, led by Solent Transport. The bid encompasses an area of strategic economic and security importance to the UK, extending from north of Winchester to Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight. The PBC component includes plans to trial new Multi-Purpose Vehicles and services that combine passenger services and freight transportation to reduce congestion and last-mile delivery costs. The original Solent FMZ Expression of Interest document is here: http://www.solent-transport.com/images/Bids/FMZ_EOI_form.pdf.
The Solent FMZ area’s rivers, coastline, harbours, towns and rural areas present major challenges for transport – creating severance, additional travel time and costs. Transport issues are a key contributor to Solent’s productivity levels lagging behind regional and national averages. PBC looks forward to helping the region address the transport challenges of today and those of tomorrow, especially in areas of significant residential and commercial property development.
Transport for the South East (TfSE)
An ambitious plan to more than double the South East’s economy by 2050, create half a million new jobs, reduce congestion, cut carbon emissions and boost air quality has been published. The draft transport strategy sets out a thirty-year framework to guide decisions about where, when and how money is invested in the South East’s transport network, along with a range of policy changes and other initiatives to make sustainable travel easier and more attractive to people and businesses.
Reducing the region’s reliance on private cars – which account for 70% of all journeys compared to just 4% by rail and 5% by bus – is vitally important as catering for forecast road traffic growth in the South East is no longer sustainable in the long term. It will also help cut carbon emissions and improve air quality.
Project Beyond Consortium members have actively contributed to the development of the draft strategy and now consultations are underway across the region. Full details of the publication and consultation events are here: https://transportforthesoutheast.org.uk/transport-strategy/