Praise for plan to ease congestion in the Solent area

Commuters at Fratton railway station
Commuters at Fratton railway station
Portsmouth Port. Photo by Chris Pearsall

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PLANS to create a new public transport network called the Solent Transit have been hailed as ‘crucial’ to improving congestion.

The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership met MPs at Westminster on Tuesday where details of a Strategic Transport Investment Plan were revealed.

Central to this vision is the need for a modern and resilient transport network that can enable the area to fulfil its economic potential.

The plan calls for a new network – the Solent Transit – that would see quicker trains between Portsmouth and Southampton, as well as between Portsmouth and London, an extended dedicated bus way network, potential light rail brought in with extra stops, upgrades to road and motorways, and more ferries.

Fareham’s council leader Sean Woodward, who is a local authority director on the Solent LEP, welcomed the report.

He said: ‘It’s a very important aspirational document.

‘It’s not set in stone with the highways authority yet but it is very important as it highlights the issues, such as travelling between Portsmouth and Southampton.

‘If the road network is slow and the rail journey is slow then it does not help business.

‘Infrastructure is critical for business. The LEP’s aspirations are absolutely vital for business to grow and the economy to expand.’

He added that the plan also gives more power when applying for funding from the government needed to complete projects, such as the Stubbington bypass.

Hampshire County Council is due to discuss the new road next month, and the £30m needed to make it a reality.

Cllr Woodward said the LEP’s plan would help it to lobby the government for a share of the money.

Gary Jeffries, chairman of Solent LEP, said it would be working with the community to grow the economy.

He said: ‘The Strategic Transport Investment Plan provides a framework within which we can accelerate the delivery of the Solent Strategic 
Economic Plan, increasing productivity and enabling the economy and people 
of the Solent to achieve their full potential.

‘We look forward to continuing to work with the business community, individual businesses and key partners, as well as central government and its agencies on increasing productivity in the Solent.’

The Solent LEP will now work on a business case. A copy of the plan can be found at solentlep.org.uk/blog