The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has re-emphasised the importance of continued investment in key transport infrastructure projects ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), due to be published on Wednesday (20 October). In its submission to the government at the beginning of September, the leading trade body identified a series of road and rail schemes that must be spared the axe in the interests of maintaining the UK’s economic recovery and ensuring future international competitiveness.
FTA has forcibly argued that a transport network that is fit for purpose is a pre-requisite for any successful economy, with road and rail infrastructure linking people to jobs and products to markets.
Theo de Pencier, FTA’s Chief Executive, said:
"FTA has already made it very clear that cutting capital spending on infrastructure would be a huge mistake, especially for an economy still struggling to free itself from the grip of recession.
"As the fate of key road and rail projects hangs in the balance we must make it clear that any short-term savings made by curtailing investment have to be weighed against the longer term costs of increased congestion and unreliability in the supply chain – a matter made more pressing by expected rises in traffic levels."
Congestion represents a huge cost to the economy, and by 2025 it could cost freight and other road users in England alone £25 billion more per year than it did in 2003, according to the Eddington Transport Study. The need for targeted investment in new infrastructure capacity and the development of technology to get the best out of the existing network is, therefore, self-evident.
National transport corridors in greatest need of investment:
London to Kent Ports Corridor (M20)
South Coast Ports to the Midlands (A34, M40)
London Orbital Corridor (M25)
London to the West Midlands, North West and Scotland Corridor (M1, M6)
Trans-Pennine (M62, M180)
Haven Ports to Midlands (A14)
London to Kent Ports Corridor
South Coast Ports to the Midlands
London Orbital Corridor (cross London routes)
London to the West Midlands, North West and Scotland Corridor (West Coast Main Line)
London to the East Midlands, Yorkshire, North East and Scotland Corridor (East Coast Main Line)
London to Thames Gateway Ports Corridor
de Pencier concluded:
"Worryingly, those road and rail corridors that are likely to become congestion ‘hotspots’ due to greater freight growth over the next decade are already under the greatest strain – the need to make early headway on existing investment plans is obvious.
"The public purse is understandably being tightly held, but the Government must not be constrained by previously held dogma in funding its spending priorities. However they are funded, FTA believes that the projects identified in the submission are simply too important to forsake."