Last weekend we decided to brush up on our history and went to visit Portsmouth. It is just along the coast for us, so nice and convenient – or so we thought. I had forgotten the efforts made to ensure our transportation infrastructure frustrates movement.

“Take the train” I hear you say. Well, I normally do, but even that can be challenging and is not always the most convenient method of transportation. So let me start by justifying choosing the car over the train on this occasion.

We could not find any decent hotels in the centre of Portsmouth, so we stayed in the Marriott (not our usual style) on the outskirts. The train station is right in the centre, so getting between the two would have been challenging and very inconvenient – not to mention costly if you start taking taxis.

Besides it seemed a lot of hassle for an 80 mile journey to spend 3 hours on two or three trains to get to where I did not really want to be. That is, until I drove there. I forgot that whilst we have reduced our rail network by more than 50% since its peak, we never really developed our road network.

It took over 4 hours to drive to Portsmouth! It was so bad that on the way back we decided to go via the M25, adding 40 miles to our journey, but reducing the travel time by an hour and a half! It was amazing, so I decided to look at how our road network compares. I am sure you all know how damaging the road network is to your business, not to mention Enterprise Britain as a whole.

I was always taught to benchmark, so off I went. Benchmarking our road network I find we have 420,000 miles of roads. This of course means very little, so I compared it to population statistics. We have 145 people per kilometre of road. Benchmarking: France has 62 and Germany 128. Even Holland with almost twice as many people per square mile has 121 people per kilometre of road, and that country is in a state of perma-gridlock.

It gets worse when we look at motorways. We have 16,548 people sharing each kilometre of motorway. Compare this with France which only has 5,806 people, Germany with 6,536 and even the Dutch with 6,335 people per kilometre of motorway. It is no wonder we can hardly move anymore.

I have not ventured into looking at our rail network to save myself from a depression. It is also much more complicated. I have blogged before about our infrastructure challenges. I know we have a deficit to address, but taking people out of benefits and public sector employment and building our infrastructure is key to our future growth.

Enterprise Britain needs to be able to move!

Sources of data:
Roads: European Union Road Federation
Population: Eurostat

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