The economic situation in Europe has changed dramatically over the past three years. Also the UK has been affected by the economic downturn in 2008/09 and went from a steady GDP growth in the period 2000–2007 to a low or negative growth and higher levels of unemployment. The Coalition Government, which came into being after the general election in 2010 stated that reducing the government deficit was one of its most important tasks and that the transport sector was expected to play a key part in it.
Apart from being “an engine” for the economic growth, transport was also seen as an important factor in reducing the economic disparities between different parts of the country.
The UK has a well developed radial road network, which totals 29,145 miles (46,904 km) of main roads, 2,173 miles (3,497 km) of motorways and 213,750 miles (344,000 km) of paved roads. However, since road is the most popular method of transportation in the UK, carrying over 90% of motorised passenger travel and 65% of domestic freight, the traffic congestion is one of the most serious transport problems facing the UK. Another issue which is causing difficulties for transport in the UK are definitely petrol prices, which could hit a record average high of £1.20 a litre in the next few weeks, according to the AA.
Therefore the Government must ensure that where it approves transport schemes designed to stimulate economic growth and rebalance the economy, they are supported by convincing economic development strategies. For major schemes that the Government is promoting itself, such as High Speed 2, it must work with local and regional bodies to develop effective economic development strategies that integrate with its transport proposals.