Congested and unreliable

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Britain’s transport infrastructure is so congested and unreliable that the Confederation of British Industry has set up group to find new ways for investment and innovation to be injected into the system.

The CBI Transport Task and Finish Group, includes firms from sectors, such as retail, construction, finance and transport an will look at whether private finance help deliver new and improved transport links in the long-term, and what incentives could change people’s behaviour and travel patterns, reduce congestion and cut pollution in the short-term?

The group has been launched in the wake of a CBI report, “Time to change gear?”, which rates different modes of transport, according to their reliability and capacity, by drawing on a range of published evidence.

The road network comes off worst, rated “poor” and judged to be worsening for both reliability and capacity.

More improvement has been made on the railways, with train travel rated “satisfactory” for its reliability, judged as improving, and “satisfactory” for capacity.

Capacity at UK airports is rated “poor”’ and getting worse. Reliability gets a “satisfactory”.

The report contains a five-point plan, which the CBI reckons would make a real difference to the UK’s transport network, if implemented by the Government:

1. Keep the transport budget at the level outlined in the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review
2. Promote and invite private investment in transport
3. Establish how alternative pricing structures can be used to help congestion and encourage investment
4. End the endless rounds of consultation and deliver a long-term transport plan
5. Remove barriers to the delivery of transport projects by implementing the Planning Act and national policy statements.

The new group will be chaired by Terry Hill, chairman of international infrastructure specialists Arup. He said: “Financing major infrastructure projects will be more difficult during a recession. But this new group will explore how we better engage with the private sector in long-term investment in such projects, not just in designing and building, but operating them too.”

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