Why a better transport network for Sussex and the South East is vital for jobs and helping to avert the climate crisis

Councillor Keith Glazier, Chair of Transport for the South East. Contributed photo TfSE. (Photo: contributed)
Councillor Keith Glazier, Chair of Transport for the South East. Contributed photo TfSE. (Photo: contributed)

More than 200 delegates attended Transport for the South East’s ‘Connecting The South East’ annual conference held in Sussex on Tuesday (September 19) to discuss improving transport infrastructure across the region as well as debating issues such as alternative fuels and active travel.

The event was held at the Amex Stadium in Brighton and brought together representatives from councils, transport providers, politicians and passenger groups from across the region.

Delegates were addressed by Transport Minister Richard Holden MP who spoke about the importance of connectivity and the vital role that the south east plays in contributing to the national economy.

Established in 2017, Transport for the South East (TfSE) is a sub-national transport body and every year brings together key decision-makers at their Connecting the South East event.

TfSE determines what investment is needed to transform the region’s transport system and drive economic growth. They work with sixteen local transport authorities, representatives of district and borough authorities, protected landscapes and national delivery agencies.

A better transport network connects people with jobs and training, helps businesses reach markets and brings family and friends closer together. It unlocks new housing and jobs and helps cut carbon emissions. The south east is a major contributor to the national economy, adding more than £200 billion annually – that’s more than Scotland and Wales combined.

The regional transport network is nationally and internationally significant: it takes in the country’s two biggest airports, many of its busiest motorways, a string of major ports, and crucial railway links to London, the rest of Britain and to mainland Europe.

Earlier this year, TfSE published its Strategic Investment Plan, which builds upon its Transport Strategy and its vision for 2050 of a vastly improved transport network across the region. This includes walking and cycling enhancements, along with road and rail improvements and more accessible and affordable public transport.

Priorities include decarbonising the transport system, levelling-up communities and facilitating sustainable economic growth in the region. The interventions are designed to deliver regional economic benefits, while also making a material contribution towards net zero carbon by encouraging integrated planning and a shift to more sustainable modes of travel for both passengers and freight.

The Strategic Investment Plan can be viewed online at http://tfse.org.uk

Councillor Keith Glazier, Chair of Transport for the South East, said: “Bringing together key decision makers from across the south east is vital in ensuring that the region has a transport network that is fit for the future. Our Connecting the South East conference did just that and also saw some fascinating debates take place regarding issues that we must get right - such as decarbonisation, active travel and alternative fuels.

“The attendance of Transport Minister Richard Holden MP and his keynote speech shows how important government view the vital role the south east plays in contributing to our national economy. Our work now focuses on delivering our Strategic Investment Plan and working with decision makers and other partners in turning the plan into reality.”

The event also featured a demo area where delegates could find out more about hydrogen technology by visiting a hydrogen bus from Brighton & Hove buses, as well as riding e-bikes from Beryl Bikes.