Transport for the South East unveils £45bn plan to transform Kent and the South East's transport infrastructure by 2050

A hugely ambitious, multi-billion pound strategy to transform the county's transports infrastructure has been revealed.

The 30-year scheme, compiled by Transport for the South East, says the plans - which would boost everything from public transport to roads and rail links - would not only ensure the region remains an economic powerhouse but decarbonise the transport network by 2050.

The scheme hopes to reduce car journeys by boosting public transport
The scheme hopes to reduce car journeys by boosting public transport

Transport for the South East (TfSE) is a sub-national transport body with representation from Kent County Council and Medway Council, as well as our district authorities.

Set up in 2017, it covers a broad area which includes Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire and also includes figures from the likes of National Highways, Transport for London and National Rail.

Among the improvements it wants to see are direct rail services from mid and east Kent to Gatwick Airport and improve integration of rail services at Ebbsfleet, Canterbury, Maidstone and Strood, where, currently, several lines cross each other without easy access to one another. Another long term goal would be to bring the Elizabeth Line - the new underground route - to Ebbsfleet.

It wants to see the high-speed rail services extended to link Ashford with Eastbourne, via Hastings, as well as improving coastal services.

On the roads, it includes improvements to Brenley Corner, at Faversham, for the M2/A2, a relief road for the A28 between the Thanet Way at Birchington for Margate and improvements on the A21 in the west of the county.

There are a number of suggestions as to how to improve our rail network
There are a number of suggestions as to how to improve our rail network

Also key is a major boost to bus services linking communities and business hubs.

Across the region, it estimates the improvements will cost £45billion. But it says adopting its proposals would deliver thousands of jobs, cut car journeys and make the use of public transport cheaper and a more compelling proposition.

Explains Rupert Clubb, director at Transport for the South East: "This is a bold and ambitious investment plan but we think it's deliverable. Our job is to make the case to Government and other funders to get behind it and back it."

The proposal, it's strategic investment plan, is currently in its draft form and is out for consultation until September.

After that, views will be considered and incorporated before the document is passed to the Secretary of State for Transport as an advisory document.

Rupert Clubb, director, Transport for the South East
Rupert Clubb, director, Transport for the South East

The options outlined would, undoubtedly, prove a huge boost to the region - among them bringing back into balance the cost of using effective and reliable public transport against public cars.

But it prompts the big question - is it just too idealistic and will the Department for Transport (DfT) – which part funds TfSE through a grant – take heed of it?

"Our board isn't into idealism," says Rupert Clubb. "It's after a plan you can transform into reality – because that's how people will judge us.

"Anyone can produce a glossy coffee table document that everyone goes 'that would be lovely if that were to happen' but there's something about how you try to turn that into reality.

"Our strategy has been accepted by the DfT and it will give regard to it in terms of setting policy and investment decisions.

Bus services would be improved under the proposals
Bus services would be improved under the proposals

"So one way of putting it is that it's advice to the Secretary of State on the types of interventions which provide economic benefits, new jobs, provide opportunities for new housing and attract inward investment."

He adds: "The way in which transport is funded and the way we think about it is quite often in a modal sense - so we think of rail, roads or buses. What our strategy and investment plan starts to do is how you integrate those modes. So for the user, the ability to turn up at a train station, get to your destination and then there's a really good hub to get further transport - a bus, or an e-bike, or whatever it might be.

"One of our asks of Government is taking off of the modal ring-fence of funding and start to think of how you genuinely integrate."

To see the full details and take part in the consultation click here.

It also details two public webinars open to all to find out more about the schemes proposed.

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