Transport operators in the UK are losing an estimated 19 million hours each year because of congestion on the country’s roads.

According to the UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG), 50,000 lorry hours are wasted every day and three million tonnes of rail freight are restricted annually.

In its report The UK’s Strategic Freight Network (not publicly available), the organisation states that the economic cost of those wasted hours to the road haulage sector amounts to some £539 million every year.

The figures have been calculated from an analysis of the strategic freight network which for the first time highlights the extent of congestion on both road and rail freight routes.

Having identified the scale of the problem, the UKMPG report — which is based on research by MDS Transmodal — goes on to recommend how it can be tackled.

The key point it makes is that by prioritising improvements on just 2.4% of England’s road network, key routes in Scotland and Wales, and on seven of the 1000 or so major junctions on the rail network, a total of £14.2 billion could be unlocked over the next 60 years.

By adopting a “freight-first” approach, the UKMPG argues that smart, targeted prioritisation can exponentially improve the UK’s freight network.

To that end, it recommends a number of measures, including ensuring that freight has a higher priority in UK transport planning and funding allocations, and establishing key capacity constraints on a cross-transport mode basis.

The UKMPG also wants to see business cases developed for investment in key bottlenecks, taking into account the benefits and opportunities across different transport modes.

Commenting on the report, Tim Morris of the UKMPG said: “We have long suspected the significant impact that congestion in our freight network has on UK productivity, but this report exposes the major extent of this.”

Last reviewed 5 April 2019