Transport projects 'in slow lane'
Too many transport projects crucial to business growth are stuck in the slow lane, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has said.
Of 13 key projects, just three are going ahead, with two having some funding committed and eight delayed, cancelled or merely under consideration.
Bold action was needed from the Government to improve transport infrastructure, said the BCC. It listed progress on 13 priority transport schemes which it first identified as vital before the 2010 general election.
The BCC said: "While the Government has taken important steps to boost infrastructure funding and delivery since the first Budget, the updated assessment shows that too many transport projects, which are crucial to business growth, are stuck in the slow lane."
The three BCC-earmarked projects going ahead are the Birmingham Motorway Scheme, which looks at variable speed limits and cars using the hard shoulder on the M5, M6, M40 and M42, with work due to be completed in spring 2014.
The next project is the Forth Replacement Crossing, involving a replacement for the deteriorating existing road bridge, which was given the go ahead by the Scottish Government and Transport for Scotland in January 2011 and will be complete by 2016.
Finally, the Crossrail link in London is well under way and expected to be fully operational in 2019, improving capacity across the capital.
The BCC said that it had awarded an "amber light" to two projects where some funding had been committed and a planning process was under way, but there was no date for final delivery.
One of these was the so-called Northern Hub rail improvement scheme to deliver £4 billion of benefits to the economy of northern England.
The rest of the 13 projects received the BCC "red" signal, including the Cardiff-Newport M4 relief road scheme in Wales; the M1 Westlink project in Northern Ireland; the A19 improvement work around the Tyne Tunnel in north east England and the A303/A358 road improvement scheme to improve links to south west England.