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What is the most efficient way to travel across the region?

It is a common statement that travelling by train is the most productive way for a business person to get around. There is no stress, as someone else is taking the strain at the wheel/controls, and you can work throughout the journey thus making each hour productive.

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Martin Warren

What is the most efficient way to travel across the region?

It is a common statement that travelling by train is the most productive way for a business person to get around. There is no stress, as someone else is taking the strain at the wheel/controls, and you can work throughout the journey thus making each hour productive.

I don’t know about you but this is rarely my experience.

Train times are rarely perfectly matched to my needs, delays are commonplace (sometimes cancelled) and internet connection is variable, if available at all. If you add to this the complications and idle times spent on railway stations between connections and the strong possibility of not even having a seat, then the bold assertion above begins to fall apart. Yes on some straight forward mainline journeys I’m sure it can be true but then those are the most expensive journeys like from Cardiff to London Paddington and even then a seat may be an issue, even if you travel first class (which I don’t).

Of course the biggest issue with the train is that it has fixed routes and stations and for someone like me who could be meeting anywhere in the region it is simply not an option.
So, given that air travel is even less flexible than the train with few airports in the region or flights between them, for me, and many like me, the car is the only mode of transport for the majority of journeys.

The use of a Sat. Nav. has revolutionised travel plotting your quickest route to your precise destination and warning you of problems with options for alternative routes to minimize the time lost. So in theory travelling by car minimizes the time you spend travelling and, in most cases, gets you there at the time you want. It also flexible meaning you can change your itinerary and stay for longer or shorten your visits without issue. Ok you can’t read or create documents in the car but it can still provide good thinking time and you can listen to podcasts or similar whilst driving.

Ah but, you say, these are rose coloured spectacles you are looking through. What about traffic jams, accidents and road closures? Well yes it is true that happens and the road network is far from perfect. Just this month I was late to events due to road works on the A338 in the New Forest (that the Sat. Nav. didn’t tell me about) and an accident on the M4 at Bristol. I also took an extra hour to get home to Cardiff from Salisbury as the A46 out of Bath and the A48(M) were both closed for night road works.

Nevertheless it is difficult to see an alternative to the car and with the inevitable move to electric cars and automation they may soon be as economical as the train with an opportunity to read in the car as a bonus albeit perhaps slightly slower than I can drive the routes currently.

So it is great news that the Severn Bridge tolls have now gone, we just now need proper maintenance of our roads and a solution to the bottlenecks we all encounter at rush hours across the region. Oh and, of course, an early decision from Wales’ new First Minister on the M4 relief road to remove the nightmare that is Bryn Glas tunnels in Newport.

Not much to ask of our politicians surely?

Martin J Warren FCA
ICAEW Regional Director for Wales and the South West
martin.warren@icaew.com