The South West of England is a region of the British Isles with the most transient of populations. The population numbers of the area vary greatly with the time of the year. The most obvious contrast is between the summer and the winter with the region being packed out with tourists in the summer months, while in the winter some counties will see numbers of people drop to a bare minimum.
This means that during every year there are huge movements of people as families make their way both to and from annual holidays. These trips may take the form of traditional one or two week breaks or may be a long weekend visits to coincide with the festivals that are popular during the summer months. These types of visitors often use road transport to visit the West Country and put strain on the road system’s that serve the region. There are three main route-ways that people will us when travelling by road and they are the M5, the A303 and the A38.
The fastest road is the M5 motorway which transports people quickly from the north of the country. Just north of Bristol it connects with the M4 which means that people from Wales and also the east of England can travel easily in to the area. The M4 replaced the A38 as the fastest road along this route, but the A38 still operates for more local traffic. The A303 brings people in from the London and South East area. It is the most direct road into the region but during the busy period it is the most congested route. As well as people using their cars the South West is served well by coach companies with both local and national companies operating full timetables.
The trains are another popular way for people to get into and out of the area. The main trains arrive on the high-speed line from Bristol Temple Meads. Often the Exeter St David’s station is where the routes tend to divide between those going to the north of Devon and Cornwall and those to the south. The region is also home to the steam railway. Tourists are able to us the North Somerset steam railway that has daily services between Minehead and Bishops Lydeard, which is just outside of Taunton. This is popular among both steam railway enthusiasts and also people who want to visit the other tourist attractions that are found along the line.
As well as the region being a popular destination for domestic holiday makers it is becoming more popular to overseas visitors. There are international airports at Southampton, Bristol and Exeter with daily services to many European destinations. These airports also serve other domestic ones around the country. There are smaller airports in the South West such as Cornwall Airport Newquay that also have domestic flights so that visitors from London who wish to travel to Cornwall quickly can use a plane service.
The region does have an efficient transport network however during the summer months there are times when the region suffers as much traffic congestion as any other area in the country. This is however due to its popularity, and there is very little that the transport planners can do about this problem.