Time to ‘do things differently’ on road transport, warns report

MORE than half of all new cars sales in the north of England will have to be electric or zero emission by 2025, if we’re to meet ambitious carbon reduction targets. So says a report published today by Transport for the North (TfN). The TfN’s Major Roads Report also says that the number of miles people are travelling by car, van and HGV will have to be slashed if we’re to meet climate change targets.

The report has been released just over a month after the Government confirmed that HS2 – the GBP96 billion high speed rail link between London and the north – would NOT come to Yorkshire. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the Commons in November that the high-speed rail network would go ahead to Manchester – but not to Leeds. The TransPennine route would be improved mainly through upgrades rather than a new line, he said.

Transport for the North’s Major Roads Report published today – which covers not only roads, but also footpaths and cycle routes – reveals that, in the North of England, 97 per cent of personal journeys are taken on highways, not rail. Of these, 61 per cent are by car or taxi, 26 per cent on foot (on pavements and footpaths), nine per cent by bus, and just two per cent by bike. Almost 90 per cent of car journeys are less than 10kms in length, TfN adds.

And almost 90 per cent of freight in the north is carried by road, rather than rail. As a result, in the north of England more than 95 per cent of the 26 million tonnes of transport-related carbon emissions per year are from road transport, TfN says. “On average, rural residents drive more than twice as far per year as people living in urban areas and are more dependent on private transport to access jobs, education, and other essential services,” the report adds.

Transport for the North chief executive Martin Tugwell said: “In the last century motorised transport revolutionised our way of life, and as we move towards the second quarter of the 21st century our highways will continue to be a fundamental part of our transport system. “However, as we look to address climate change, we will need to make choices about how we use the available highway space, with greater priority given to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. “We will also need to consider and agree on how we will pay for investment and indeed on how we pay to use our roads.

We need to do things differently, but at the same time ensure that our way forward does not disadvantage those for whom travel by car is the only practical option. “If we’re to have that debate then we must seize the opportunity to look at how the relative cost of motoring, bus travel and rail travel influences the choices we make. For only by looking at transport in the round will we be able to ensure that our investment choices are sustainable for the longer term.

“As the ‘one voice’ for the North, TfN …will work with Government and its agencies to identify a way forward that is fair and sustainable, as part of a multimodal transport system that is truly fit for purpose.”