7:40am Monday 4th March 2013
WEST Midlands business leaders have called for greater recognition of the importance to road freight of investment in the strategic road network to support haulage and logistics activity.
Responding to Centro’s West Midlands Metropolitan Freight Strategy, the Black Country Chamber Transport Group has said that for the vast majority of haulage and logistics movements, especially in a consumer-driven next-day environment, road freight is the only viable option.
Fifty-three million tonnes of freight from the West Midlands Metropolitan area is carried by road. The group believes that rail freight will continue to be used by only a minority of specialist businesses and water freight is unlikely to be used for anything other than large bulk movements.
To be successful, it claims, the strategy must reflect “the significant growth” in small-scale local freight movements, the increase in drop box solutions and delivery to central locations for collection by the customer and the increase in international B2C freight to a range of destinations.
Centro, the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority, has developed the strategy to provide a framework to prioritise and co-ordinate investment in schemes and initiatives to enhance freight movements.
The strategy aims to generate economic benefits and attract investment for the region.
Colin Leighfield, chairman of the transport group, said: “Given the critical importance of road freight to the regional and national economy, there are two pivotal issues that must be addressed.
“Firstly, while the managed motorways have proven to be successful and we are fully supportive of the proposals to deliver the necessary additional Managed Motorway schemes on the M42 and M5, we need to ensure that we fully utilise the existing capacity of the M6 Toll Road.
“There is an urgent need for a solution for the Toll Road and the introduction of a shadow toll or subsidised tolls at certain times of the day should be carefully considered.
“Secondly, managed motorways can only be a short-term solution to the national/regional congestion problems.
“The location of the region at the heart of the UK’s strategic road network and the consequent ‘through running’ of road freight requires a long-term solution that addresses the under-provision in the western part of the region, which will not be negated by hard-shoulder running.
“We would welcome the opportunity to explore how transport authorities can help ensure that this crucial priority remains on the political agenda and to encourage work to be undertaken to develop a viable proposition for a long-term solution.”
Mr Leighfield added: “Central Government must address the unacceptably long lead times for scheme development funding and delivery.
“We appreciate that major schemes are required to go through significant planning processes - however, this drastically reduces confidence in such schemes and makes it difficult for businesses to plan and support the required investment in infrastructure to grow the economy.
“Where possible, we believe that the majority of developed schemes should be able to be delivered within the lifetime of one term of Government.”
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