One of the least surprising things you can share with those involved in delivery work is that the UK’s transport infrastructure is at best described as being “tired” and at worst “totally inadequate for the 21st century”. |
Decades of under-investment have resulted in some of the most crowded roads and rail networks in Western Europe, plus, in some cases, appalling quality.
Whatever the historical causes of this, the government’s 2016 plan is an injection of £425 billion in 600 major infrastructure projects running out to 2021 - and a little beyond.
The FTA’s Response
The plan has been warmly received by the major representative bodies of the UK haulage work industry, including the FTA.
Nobody seriously disputes that the state of the roads in some parts of the country is scandalous - even those who question the long-term feasibility of industrial-scale delivery work around the country. The roads are often either totally inadequate in terms of coping with traffic volumes or very poorly maintained.
Improvements in this area are therefore welcome in order to facilitate the easier transportation of goods, which in turn will create economic benefits.
Some of the investment capital is being dedicated to the construction of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’. This is also being well received as a final recognition that economic and industrial development alone is useless unless you provide those centres with a means of easily and efficiently getting their goods to other parts of the country or overseas -while at the same time getting the raw materials they require.
In short: rail and road investment in the north is of paramount importance, and the strategic plan recognises that fact.
Rail Investment Welcomed
To emphasise the fact that road and rail are seen as being complementary to each other rather than being in competition, the FTA has also welcomed news of further investment in the ‘iron road’.
Whether carrying passengers or freight, efficient railways increase business opportunities, which is good not only for the overall economy but for delivery work opportunities as well. Much of our railway network remains Victorian and that must be dealt with sooner or later. The government’s plan is an important part of that story too.
Return on Investment
There will inevitably be those who argue that ‘flagship projects’ have a tendency to burn their budgets very effectively while not always generating the proposed benefits and justifications.
However, that is a spiral of negativism that should be avoided. If the government does nothing to address the shortcomings of the UK’s infrastructure, it is criticised, yet, if it does, it is accused of creating ‘white elephants’.
The 2016 National Infrastructure Delivery Plan is a major investment and one that should be welcomed by everyone in the delivery work business - not just the FTA and related bodies. The UK’s transport infrastructure problems cannot all be addressed at once and it has to be accepted that even this massive programme is going to take some time before yielding real, tangible improvements and associated economic benefits.
Even so, it’s a major step in a positive direction and most within the delivery work industry will welcome it as such.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching delivery work with available drivers. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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