The Freight Transport Association says that the Government's proposals for dealing with road, rail and port congestion are now in line with the views of industry. However, FTA remains concerned that the pace of delivering improvements to the infrastructure should be accelerated in order to avoid the enormous waste of man-hours and money caused by worsening levels of congestion. Immediate action is needed rather than waiting until 2014.
FTA was reacting to the publication by the Department for Transport of 'Towards a Sustainable Transport System', unveiled by Secretary of State for Transport, Ruth Kelly today (30 October).
FTA says that the Government now appears to be on the same page as industry in recognising the importance to the economy of efficient supply chains and the importance to business of reliable journey times and deliveries.
FTA Chief Executive Theo de Pencier said, 'Any Government transport policy that has identified maximising the competitiveness of the economy as its number one priority will need to have supply chain interests near the top of its agenda. The fact that the Government has done so is a measure of how far it has travelled towards recognising the role of freight transport in the economy.'
FTA has welcomed the Government's alignment of transport planning with the principles contained in the Eddington report – action to improve inter-urban corridors, intra-urban centres and international gateways; the alignment of planning timelines for all transport modes, and the mix of policy measures, including investment in pinch-points and the importance of reliable journey times. FTA also agrees with the goals of improving competitiveness, safety and the quality of life, advancing the equality of opportunity and reducing carbon. Efficient supply chains help to deliver all of these aspirations.
Mr de Pencier said, 'We agree with the Government regarding the measures required to reduce congestion, improve competitiveness and achieve higher social and economic aspirations. However, we cannot wait until 2014 before substantive action is taken. The motorway hard shoulder running plans announced last week and the rail freight investment statement made yesterday are examples of what can be achieved in the short term with relatively low level investment. FTA has identified other actions which could yield similar quick wins, including trialling higher capacity lorries, lifting delivery curfews and further gauge enhancement on key rail routes.
'Delivery of an improved transport infrastructure will be heavily dependent upon sufficient funding and a shake-up of the planning system. Both are matters of urgency and will now be the focus of our representations to Government.
'Efficient supply chains are a vital ingredient in an efficient economy and the Government is to be congratulated for recognising and planning for that. But in order to create jam tomorrow we need to eliminate jams today. We must get on with these improvements right now – not wait until 2014.'
The Freight Transport Association represents the interests of companies moving goods by road, rail, sea and air. FTA members operate over 200,000 goods vehicles – almost half the UK fleet. In addition they consign over 90 per cent of the freight moved by rail and over 70 per cent of sea and air freight.