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Report indicates scale of bottlenecks in Britain’s freight network

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Dry Bulk,

The true scale and cost of bottlenecks in Britain’s freight network has been laid bare in a report commissioned by the UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG). The report for the first time identifies the strategic freight network responsible for keeping the UK’s goods moving and the substantial value from making improvements to this network.

The report finds that congestion on key routes and locations in the country obstructs the UK economy, amounting to 50 000 HGV hours wasted every day (19 million per annum) and 3 million t of rail freight restricted annually, costing an estimated £539 million every year.

Prioritising improvement on just 2.4% of England’s road network and key routes in Scotland and Wales, together with just 7 out of around 1000 major junctions on the rail network would transform our freight network and unlock value to the UK economy which far outstrip the cost of investment. The report, which was developed by specialist research company MDS Transmodal, found that a total of £14.2bn billion could be unlocked over a 60-year period by taking a ‘freight-first approach to:

  • 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.

With Brexit just around the corner, discussion has been rife about how effectively Britain can continue to trade and transport goods. Focusing on our strategic freight network and taking a ‘freight-first approach would be a common-sense first step to ensure the country is as prepared for future trading as we possibly can be.

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

“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.”

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