28 JAN 2019


Traffic jams and rail bottlenecks are costing the country’s freight firms and ports upwards of £500m every year, while there is an urgent need for a “freight-first approach” to ensure a post-Brexit UK can continue to trade and transport goods easily, according to a new report.

Research commissioned by the UK Major Ports Group congestion has estimated traffic on key routes in the country obstructs the UK economy - amounting to 50,000 HGV hours wasted every day and three million tonnes of rail freight restricted annually.

The study claims that congestion could be eased by prioritising improvements on just 2.4% of England, Wales and Scotland’s road network and seven major railways junctions.

The report, which was developed by specialist research company MDS Transmodal, found that a total of £14.2bnbn could be unlocked over a 60-year period by taking a number of approaches.

These include:

  • Ensuring that freight has a higher priority in UK transport planning and funding allocations
  • Establishing key capacity constraints on a cross transport mode basis
  • Building in the benefits of trade through freight on a consistent basis in project appraisals
  • Develop the business cases for investment in key bottlenecks taking into account the benefits and opportunities across transport modes. 

Tim Morris, of the UK Major Ports Group, said a new “freight first” approach was needed to ensure that Britain can live up to its true potential.

“We have long suspected the significant impact that congestion in our freight network has on UK productivity, but this report exposes the major extent of this,” he added. “And the potential identified is just in terms of freight industry value – the value to manufacturers, retailers and other industries for their own businesses will add substantial to this benefit. Leaking money because of avoidable congestion is an own goal. As this report shows, some smart, targeted prioritisation can exponentially improve our freight network as this crucial moment for our country.”  

The UKMPG is the trade association representing most of the large commercial ports in the UK. Its members annually invest around £550 million in the UK, likely to be 90% of all investment in the UK ports sector.


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