This summer, the Government published a programme of planned upgrades to the UK road network which will cost £6.1 billion. As the Road Haulage Association has said, “the UK’s roads and motorways are a haulier’s workplace”. Projected improvements to the transport infrastructure that is a haulier’s office space are of utmost importance to us. Today, I’m going to take a closer look at the details of this new scheme and what it means for HGV drivers.
The mentioned sum of money is going to be used to help create a new MRN, or major road network. In good news for hauliers, one aim of the scheme is to help HGVs avoid busy towns and villages. Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, stressed in particular that the MRN would permit developments such as bypasses to be constructed around busy cities to aid congestion, bringing relief to residents and drivers.
Unlike other road improvement schemes which can be all talk and no action, these changes will begin within the next 6 months. In fact, a huge 55 upgrades are planned across the country in this time frame. Important improvements to the UK road network that are currently planned are increasing capacity to parts of the Northumberland A1 and the A12 Colchester Bypass, forming a better connection between the Port of Liverpool and the motorways, and improving effectiveness at junctions such as the M6’s Junction 19.
The hope is that these changes – amongst others – will reduce congestion and increase capacity on the roads, leading to quicker journeys for both hauliers and other drivers. Transport Minister Jesse Norman promised that “road users across England should soon be seeing the benefits of these improvements in their daily lives, which are designed to link people better with their jobs… as well as connecting businesses with customers”.
Case Study: Isham
The chaotic roads around the village of Isham are well-known to locals and to hauliers who must pass through the village on their route. Frustrated locals have even been out and about counting the traffic that passed through their village in a 24-hour period in an effort to show how severe the congestion problems have become. Thankfully, funding for a bypass is included in these new plans, allowing hauliers to avoid the centre and cut down on their journey times as well as help bring some much-needed peace to the locals.
Northamptonshire County Council has said that the bypass “is a priority scheme… and we are committed to making it happen.”
These latest plans are part of a £23 billion upgrade to the UK road network formulated by the government. In May of this summer the funding was confirmed. A portion of the funding is drawn from vehicle excise duty. The industry has welcomed this decision as a logical use of funds raised by vehicle tax.
Any changes that reduce congestion, remove bottle-necks, and keep HGVs away from busy centres (whilst reducing their journey times!) is bound to be popular. Let’s hope they manage to stick to the projected timeframe and deliver a much-improved UK road network to the men and women who work on the roads every single day.
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 is the leading service for matching haulage jobs with available vehicles. They also provide expert articles on topics like the UK road network and other issues in the freight industry. Over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.