Employers want more transport investment


Britain’s employers have called on the government to commit to at least £250bn of public and private investment in transport over the next ten years, as business patience and public tolerance is becoming exhausted by the slow pace of improvements.

The Confederation of British Industry said the UK was being let down by its crumbling road and rail infrastructure and said that delays cost the UK economy £20bn a year.

Earlier this month, figures compiled by recruitment firm Reed found that employers are losing over 11 million hours each week as staff struggle with commuting problems, a rise of more than a third on the 8 million hours lost in 2002.

Publishing its transport spending submission the CBI has called for a mixture of public and private investment to boost the planned spending of £180bn in the government's 10-year transport plan by £70bn.

Priorities should include the M1, M6 and M25 motorways, while on the railways the government should focus on greater reliability and capacity for both passenger and freight routes, it said.

But the CBI added that this level of overall investment is now the minimum required to make “acceptable progress”. Delivering a transport system to rival the best in Europe remains a dim prospect and would cost a great deal more, it said.

CBI director general Digby Jones said: "We have a first-rate economy and it deserves a first-rate transport system, not the substandard infrastructure that is currently letting down the whole country."

"The government was bold in 2000 and committed to a long-term strategy - a welcome change for politicians. The original 10 Year Plan was full of promise but four years and £50bn later there remain profound deficiencies in the UK transport system. The catalogue of transport nightmares gets ever longer.

"There has been so much effort from many people and a certain amount of progress, but the Plan has clearly stalled. Business and the public alike are becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of improvement.“

Too much of the transport plan did not deliver the substantial change that industry and the public was hoping for, the report said.

"We are not calling on the government to break the bank," said Mr Jones.

"The scale of transport spending business is asking for would be a relatively small price to pay to deliver to the fourth largest economy in the world the transport system it deserves."