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Scotland and Wales set transport priorities

THE SCOTTISH executive last week unveiled plans for a new long term rail franchise for Scotland.

It will provide direction and guidance for bidders, though the deal - up for renewal in April 2004 - will be ultimately let and managed by the Strategic Rail Authority.

The refranchising plan will include redeveloping Edinburgh's Waverley station, said transport minister Wendy Alexander. She said she hoped that work to boost the number of platforms would start by 2004.

Reports due by the autumn will help the executive decide on further developments to Scotland's rail network, with proposed new routes to Glasgow and Edinburgh airports.

Current rail franchise holder is ScotRail and owner National Express Group has said it will bid for the new 15 year deal.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Assembly has shelved plans for the £300M M4 relief road between Magor and Castleton, near Newport in South Wales.

Go ahead hangs in the balance until the results of the London to the South West and South Wales multi-modal study are known.

The project was not included in the Welsh Assembly's Trunk Road Forward Programme for the next six years.

The programme revealed eight schemes that are expected to be ready for delivery within three years - including the A479 Talgarth relief road. The preferred route for the 3.6km road in the Black Mountains, near Brecon, was announced last week.

Thirteen projects - including the M4 relief road - have been put on hold.


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