UK Port Connectivity Summit planned to discuss investment in road and rail links to ports

The British Ports Association is hosting its first Port Connectivity Summit this spring to focus attention on the investment needed to better connect ports to wider transport infrastructure. This will bring together national and local policy makers to discuss how investment hinterland links to UK ports can be prioritised. As an island nation, Britain's ports are gateways that enable productivity and prosperity, but more attention is required to support the outward, and inward, journey of freight.

With 95% of UK trade arriving via our maritime gateways and a variety of other activities depending on ports the ports industry is keen that all tiers of government act to increase the capacity of road and rail networks to support the increased number of journeys from coastal regions. The UK National Infrastructure Commission has estimated that over the next 30 years, the amount of goods carried by freight transport could increase by between 27% and 45% and maritime tourism is also set to grow rapidly. This serves to evidence the importance of investment in transport links to and from our port gateways.

The Port Connectivity Summit will incorporate speakers from across the port and shipping sectors and parts of government responsible for transport policy and road and rail investment. The event will also spotlight specific case studies from ports and analyse these within the context of national spending. Commenting, Phoebe Warneford-Thomson, Policy and Economic Analyst, at the British Ports Association said:

The quality of the road and rail networks are critical for efficient freight movement and business growth. Good road connections are particularly vital for UK ports, handling up to 85% of port hinterland traffic. However, it is not just ports that benefit when investment is made in regional transport, but communities and commuters too.

The squeezing of local authority funding in recent years has resulted in decisions over investment in the so-called 'last mile connections' to ports being put under pressure. This is not only poor for the efficiency of freight transport, but for the air quality, emissions and for public safety too. There is also a significant case for expanding rail freight capacity at ports.

Currently, one in four sea containers arriving at UK ports is carried inland by rail, but as each freight train takes 60 HGVs off the road, by increasing this capacity we can significantly ease congestion on already busy roads. Freight trains also achieve over 95% reliability in on-time performance, which would allow for the heightened efficiency of freight transport; ultimately enabling better growth and productivity figures. Ports, which are independent of government, have invest billions of Pounds in their own infrastructure to boost their own growth and capacity.

However they do rely on public investment for world leading road and rail connections.

It is therefore vital that government works to ensure there is appropriate capacity on our road and rail networks, to and from our international gateways and local and regional hubs, to meet this demand.

Two years on from the Port Connectivity Study, join the British Ports Association on the 24th March to reflect on the impact of the study, current requirements of ports and what needs to be done in the future for ports to remain as key facilitators of international trade and regional growth.
Source: British Ports Association

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