Institution of Civil Engineers launches consultation on the value of a national transport strategy

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has launched a consultation to gather insight on whether England could benefit from having a national transport strategy and how such a strategy could be developed and implemented.

The consultation is seeking evidence and views from infrastructure and transport professionals, civil engineers, civil society groups, and other interested parties.

An accessible, reliable, safe public transport network is an essential part of the UK achieving its long-term levelling up and net zero goals.

But England’s transport network is struggling because of multiple factors: decades of under-investment in some regions, overly centralized decision-making that has contributed to disparity across the network, the Covid-19 pandemic, and high inflation.

The country is behind in meeting many of its infrastructure targets and the transport sector lacks sufficiently detailed policies, plans or metrics to make investment and planning decisions that are focused on achieving the most desirable outcomes, e.g., improving people’s ability to travel easily and decarbonising the transport network.

These problems have been exacerbated by delays to major projects such as HS2 and the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands (IRP). Budget cuts, staff shortages and industrial action have also all impacted service levels.

Together, these issues risk making public transport less attractive, when increasing its use is vital.

The ICE originally recommended developing a national transport strategy in a policy paper on accelerating the delivery of the IRP.

A subsequent industry discussion hosted by the ICE showed there is broad industry support to develop a national strategy but not consensus about what such a strategy should look like.

The consultation will take in people’s views and then the ICE will make recommendations about developing a national transport strategy in a follow up paper.

Jonathan Spruce, ICE Trustee for policy and external affairs said:

“With capital budgets frozen from 2024/25, the transport industry is trying to meet ambitious goals with less money, so good decision making and prioritisation is more important than ever.

“However, England lacks a clear strategic plan for its transport network. We need to think strategically about what we want our country’s transport network to deliver so we can focus investment on the projects that will achieve the best outcomes for people and the planet.”

The ICE consultation is open now and will run until Friday, 12 May 2023.


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