Warning of road and rail economy threat

MAJOR improvements are needed on the region's road and rail networks to avoid a “very real threat” to its economy, an influential body of civil engineers said today.

MAJOR improvements are needed on the region's road and rail networks to avoid a “very real threat” to its economy, an influential body of civil engineers said today.

Suffolk's road and rail networks came in for specific mention today when the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) warned that the potential for jobs growth and population expansion were under threat because parts of the region's transport system were already at full capacity.

And for those not currently at full capacity, ICE warned they are rapidly approaching it.

In its State of the Nation Report 2006, which was released today, ICE called on the government to speed up improvements to the A14, to increase links between Felixstowe and the Midlands and to improve train networks to allow more freight from the region's ports to be taken by rail to the country's west and north west.

While the report's authors found the east is providing economic growth for the UK at large it says it is facing serious transport issues because of the presence of “international gateways” - in particular Felixstowe port, which is the UK's biggest container terminal, Harwich port and Stansted airport.

With a current population of 5.5million, the east has been earmarked by the government for massive growth. Among the targets are a further 400,000 jobs by 2021, as well as 478,000 new homes and expansion of Felixstowe port and Stansted.

Most Read

But ICE, which has 5,000 members in the east, says the state of the area's transport system presents a “very real and present threat to the economic viability of the region”.

It said: “ICE would like to see investment in the provision of suitable east-west road and rail links, in particular an improvement in freight capacity from the east coast and Thames ports to the Midlands.

“This particularly requires the upgrading of the Ipswich to Nuneaton rail link and north London orbital rail links thereby allowing an increased proportion of port traffic for the north west/west to travel by rail.”

It also called for existing commitments to improve links from the A14 to the A1/M1 at Cambridge to be accelerated and says a priority should be the reinstatement of the A120 Braintree to A12 link to make east-west movements from Ipswich and Colchester to Stansted easier.

Weblink: www.ice-eastofengland.org.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter