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:

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:

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:

Project Beyond Consortium: Press Release

July 29th 2019

In England and Wales only 29.6% of people live in large towns and cities with over 200,000 residents but the primary emphasis of current transport innovation is on major urban conurbations and smart cities.

Productivity relies on the safe, efficient movement of people and goods. Supply chains, employment, inclusion and prosperity depend on effective transport and over 65% of vehicle road miles take place outside large towns and cities.

Recent advances in technology and new business models are contributing to significant transport improvements. They include better utilisation of infrastructure, efficient, convenient mobility and carbon-emission reductions. But the emphasis of current research and innovation on the transport needs of major urban conurbations when the majority of people and goods movement actually occurs outside these areas is an oversight.

Today we announce the formation of the Project Beyond Consortium, created to address transport and mobility challenges beyond major cities.

Established as a not-for-profit organisation, the Project Beyond Consortium is focusing on collaborative research and innovation projects to make a difference. The founding members of the consortium are:

  • Alexander Dennis Ltd.
  • Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)
  • Hampshire County Council
  • Stagecoach Group
  • The Go-Ahead Group
  • Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
  • University of Surrey, 5G Innovation Centre

Stakeholders in the transport ecosystem are invited to join the consortium and collaborate in relevant research and innovation work streams.

Craig Ellis, Chief Technology Officer at The Go-Ahead Group said “The Go-Ahead Group is pleased to be a founding member of the Project Beyond consortium, and the exciting and innovative opportunities that the consortium seeks to unlock. We look forward to working alongside our partners, and developing innovative transport thinking to the challenges we face”

Edward Hodgson, Managing Director at Stagecoach South said “delivering effective transport for rural and less densely populated areas presents some very real challenges and its only by working together that we can solve some of the complex issues facing these areas. We are excited to be working as part of the Project Beyond Consortium which brings together key stakeholders which we hope will help unlock the potential solutions.”

The local authority with the highest traffic level in Britain is Hampshire, with 9.87 billion vehicle miles. Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “Hampshire is a large and rural county and ensuring residents have access to areas of education and employment is a key priority for the County Council. By working with our partners in Project Beyond, we can investigate new opportunities to make it easier for people across Hampshire to get around, supporting communities and promoting continued economic prosperity.”

Professor Rahim Tafazolli, founder and director of the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) said “5G represents a fundamental transformation of the role mobile technology plays in the economy and society, enabling and delivering rich new services in transport and mobility to improve productivity. The 5G Innovation Centre is proud to be playing a leading part in supporting the DCMS UK 5G testbeds and trials programme and welcomes the opportunity to work with the Project Beyond Consortium members.”

Consortium Director Mark Selby said “The geographic areas addressed by Project Beyond face complex technical and commercial challenges for infrastructure and operations. We believe multi-sector collaborations focusing on the movement of people and goods will have a positive impact on productivity.”

The Project Beyond Consortium is focusing on specific transport and mobility challenges. They include:

  • The sustainability of public transport service delivery in less-densely populated areas when public sector budgets are declining and transport costs are increasing.
  • Addressing the costs of last mile deliveries as online retail continues to grow.
  • The lack of connectivity to support Connected Vehicles and the economic viability of building a suitable communications infrastructure.
  • Reducing congestion and emissions in areas where people have a high dependency on car use.
  • Exploring the suitability of current multi-modal transport innovations from city transit systems to areas with multiple service providers and regulators.

Kathy Slack, Chief Executive of Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said; “I am excited that Enterprise M3 LEP is involved with Project Beyond. Partnership working is at the very heart of everything we do and this is a fantastic opportunity to work with a range of industry leaders in the field of smart mobility.”

Contact details

PBC website:
Media and membership inquiries: