Clear Strategy And Planning Needed To Set Transport On Right Track

20th June, 2013
-ICE State of the Nation: SW Regional Transport report 2013-

20 June 2013: The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) South West has today released a briefing on the state of the Region?s transport infrastructure.

In recent years bad weather has exposed the fragile state of parts of the South West transport systems, with severe conditions causing road and rail closures, disrupting key routes in and around the South West.  With limited mainline routes by road, rail and air, the region needs to see urgent action and comprehensive planning for the future.

In its State of the Nation: Transport briefing, ICE South West highlights the current issues affecting the region. It analyses what is currently being done to improve the situation, and what needs to be done to ensure economic stability and to guarantee the future of our transport infrastructure. This includes:

Regional Connectivity and Resilience - cities, towns and villages must link up effectively through well maintained resilient infrastructure. Investment is required on strategic routes such as the A303, and the Pinch Point improvement projects implemented by the Highways Authority (HA) are welcomed. It is essential to maintain our South West network, including continued investment in flood prevention and asset management.

National Connectivity ? there must be better journey times between the economic centres of the region and the rest of the UK, as well as more resilience built in through viable alternative routes. Rail line speeds and journey times need considerable improvement and there needs to be better use of air links between the various regional airports across the UK.

This is of real significance for the far South West, which has lost Plymouth airport and has had cuts in the services to London from both Newquay and Exeter

Long-term Planning - at a strategic level, there is a mismatch between long-term planning and delivery, and five-year political cycles. The issues might be familiar but until the political parties can be persuaded to agree on the underlying strategic delivery required, then a proper change cannot take place. Our Local Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships across the South West must work ever more closely together on transport issues to promote schemes that benefit the whole region.

ICE South West Member of Council, Richard Fish, said: ?The government has identified poor transport infrastructure as one of the key barriers to inward investment and economic growth. Without effective transport systems across the region, we cannot effectively access local and national business, public services or move essential goods into and around our complex rural and coastal geography.

?Effective implementation of a long-term strategy would need to consider how all of our transport links fit together, interconnectivity must be prioritised. It is not a case of urban versus rural, but rather a challenge to make all forms of regional and national transport work coherently together.?

Ultimately, according to ICE South West, our regional and national connectivity needs a joined up programme of improvements. We must have adequate investment in our mainline railway track so that we are not cut off from the rest of the UK during severe weather conditions. Our roads must be maintained to ensure that they can cope with capacity, particularly during the tourist season, and there needs to be a review of regional airports and ports to ensure we can get the best use from these important hubs.