The supply chain has welcomed the Government's plans for improvements to the road and rail network in order to maximise the competitiveness of the UK economy. Motorway widening, rail gauge enhancement and improvements at ports and airports are all welcome. But the Freight Transport Association says that we must not wait until 2014 to start such improvements – action is required right away.
These comments were made by Andrew Haines, President of the Freight Transport Association, speaking at the FTA Annual Dinner at the London Hilton Hotel on 6 November.
Mr Haines said that it was unacceptable that UK industry, delivering the economy, had to waste millions of man hours and billions of pounds because lorries all too often are stuck in congestion, freight trains are held up in sidings, and containers held up at ports and airports.
FTA welcomed Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly's recognition of the importance of reliable journey times and her plans to eliminate pinch-points in the infrastructure, improve safety and reduce carbon emissions.
Mr Haines said, 'At last the Government and industry are on the same page – but alas we are not running at the same pace. We need fundamental action here and now. Not in 2014, not in 2010, but here and now. Bearing in mind the present problems of congestion, and FTA's own forecast for gross pressure on our key trade routes as a result of the changing nature of the economy, a seven year delay will severely jeopardise the road to recovery.'
Mr Haines pointed out that Sir Rod Eddington, commissioned by the Government to advise on the impact of transport on the economy, had said that UK transport networks were 'under serious strain' and that if unchecked these problems 'will increase costs to businesses and freight by over £10 billion a year.'
Principal guest speaker at the FTA Annual Dinner was Jim Fitzpatrick, Under Secretary of State for Transport.
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.