Belfast Telegraph

Firms worried about state of roads and rail network, study shows

Most firms believe the state of Britain's roads, railways and other infrastructure will hamper competitiveness in the coming years, a study shows.

Research by the CBI showed that top priorities for companies included investment in the rail network, motorways and main roads.

Around two out of five of the 728 companies surveyed said infrastructure had improved but almost two thirds suspected it could hit the UK's international competitiveness in the coming decades.

Confidence in the business world that things will improve in the next five years has fallen over the past 12 months, with most firms not optimistic that infrastructure in aviation, energy and roads will get better.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director general, said: "Infrastructure is a key driver of productivity and living standards.

"Firms give the Government a good report card on infrastructure, and are pleased with its commitment in recent years to put infrastructure at the heart of its long-term economic agenda.

"But announcements and commitments are one thing. Seeing tarmac, tracks, and super-fast internet cables being laid is another. It isn't right that nearly one in two firms are dissatisfied with their region's infrastructure, or that confidence in the future is running low, especially when it comes to delivery, the key piece of the infrastructure puzzle."

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We are delivering a record £70 billion investment in rail, roads, ports and airports.

"Within this, we are funding the biggest rail modernisation programme since Victorian times and the most extensive improvements to roads since the 1970s.

"Work is due to get under way on HS2, and Crossrail is set to open in 2018.

"We also gave the go-ahead for Heathrow, which will bring benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61 billion."