Investment needed in region's transport

MAJOR new rail and road initiatives are needed to combat worsening traffic jams which are expected to cost the East Anglian economy £2billion a year by 2021, a study has found.

MAJOR new rail and road initiatives are needed to combat worsening traffic jams which are expected to cost the East Anglian economy £2billion a year by 2021, a study has found.

The Transport Economic Evidence Study reveals that some parts of Suffolk and Essex are suffering large economic losses due to congestion.

In the Suffolk Coastal economy alone, traffic hold-ups are expected to cost £500 per worker per year by 2021.

By the same year, some Essex district economies will experience productivity losses of up to £40million a year which are directly due to congestion, it says.

A transport summit was told that the cost of congestion across the six counties of the East of England was £1billion by 2003, and warned that this could double by 2021 unless radical action is taken.

The study points to the A12/Great Eastern Main Line as one of the top three corridors in the region where reduction in congestion would have large economic returns.

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It highlights the Great Eastern Main Line and more frequent and longer 12-car trains as one of the key economic priorities for the region.

Capacity and gauge enhancements to the Felixstowe-Nuneaton rail route are also set out as a key regional priority to allow more and larger containers to be moved cross-country from the ports to markets elsewhere in the UK. This would remove lorry traffic from the A14 and A12 routes and free valuable rail capacity on the Great Eastern Mainline, it says.

East of England Development Agency chair Richard Ellis said investment in transport was “critical to supporting the regional and national economy”.

“We now have the economic evidence to support the East of England's case for continued investment in the transport infrastructure,” he said.