For those working in the transport industry, good infrastructure and access are absolutely crucial. Poor connections between towns mean drivers have to navigate confusing country lanes on long journeys, which costs time and money. Good connections, on the other hand, decrease travel times, fuel costs and driver stress. This is especially important for those managing a courier network, where the unpredictability and costs associated with poor links can create a logistical nightmare.
Happily, the UK government appears to be realising the issues this presents and are pushing ahead with improvement plans. In this article, we’ll take a brief look over just a couple, focusing on the troublesome region around the middle of the country.
Two Towns Long Overdue a Link: The Oxford-Cambridge Expressway
The first of these two projects is also the most high profile: the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway. Each of the two famous towns is a major trading centre, and anyone working as part of a courier network will know how much trouble the lack of any direct road link between them can cause.
Malcolm Bingham, head of road network management policy at the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has been especially candid. Slamming ‘poor road connectivity in the heart of England’, he blamed poor transport connections for slowing economic growth in the region. But the new expressway, he says, ‘will provide faster and easier journeys’ for all, ‘unlocking the potential for new business opportunities and jobs.’
Doing More With Less: Making a Motorway of the A14
Investing in infrastructure is expensive. The overall improvement scheme for the region, announced in 2016, is already projected to cost around £1.5 billion. Keeping this in mind, then, interested parties are keen to find ways to do more with less. This is a good sign for courier network managers and drivers, who know how important little changes can be to a business.
Accordingly, the FTA has recommended the reclassification of a stretch of the A14 from A-road to motorway. The area between Cambridge and Huntington, Bingham notes, ‘represents an important strategic link for freight transport, connecting the ports in East Anglia with the Midlands and the rest of England’. Turning it into a motorway would allow goods to move more quickly and easily without needing to invest in a major new project.
As noted above, there are numerous other projects in the works. Moves are being made to expand existing roads in the south and create a new Thames crossing east of London, for instance, helping to reduce traffic and bottlenecks.
Still, there is much to be done. Bingham sounded a note of caution in his remarks for the FTA, saying ‘infrastructure investment is desperately needed to provide a well-connected, safe, reliable and efficient road network’.
With this in mind, and with further uncertainties on the horizon, most notably Brexit, anyone working within a courier network should keep a close eye on changes – and plan accordingly.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world’s largest neutral trading hub for same day jobs in the express freight exchange industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their online courier network, Courier Exchange provides services for matching loads and with available drivers. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.