Rising congestion threatens efficiency of UK freight transport

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The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has warned that increasing congestion in the UK, could be the most severe threat to efficient freight transport over the next 30 years.

The FTA has made the warning in the Eddington study, which is due to release its results in the middle of 2006. The FTA has published its submission to the study, commissioned by the Government and headed by Sir Rod Eddington, charged with advising on the longer term impact of transport decisions on the UK’s productivity, stability and growth.

The FTA says that as congestion increases on the road and rail networks, a further threat to freight transport will be high prices or tolls for freight traffic arising from the political fallacy that passenger or private interests are more important than the movement of goods and services.

James Hookham, The FTA director of policy says: “The request for Sir Rod Eddington to look at the long term UK transport needs is very welcome. However, the combination of the urgent economic need for increased transport efficiency and the current exceedingly long lead times for major transport projects, means that action is required now. We cannot wait until 2015 before anything is done.” He also goes on to say that: “For these reasons FTA remains convinced that the terms of reference for the Eddington study prevent adequate consideration of the near term consequences of under-investment in transport infrastructure. Transport must not be made to wait. Although we would welcome a firm promise of jam tomorrow, in business we are dealing with jams today!’

FTA has called for further research in a number of areas including:

  • The causes of the decoupling of economic growth and freight activity.
  • The maintaining of competitive advantage generated by efficient logistic practices to UK plc.
  • How network predictability might change in the next five years, 10 years and 30 years.
  • How the role of vans in business to business services and in home deliveries will evolve over the next 30 years.
  • The impact on freight demand of increases in costs as a result of a national road pricing strategy aimed at curbing road use.
  • UK pinch points emerging from further expansion in world trade over a 30 year horizon.
  • How will journey time predictability change in the next five years, 10 years and 30 years?
  • The benefit to UK supply chains and congestion levels resulting from the lifting of urban access restraints by local authorities.
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