Failing transport system stifles region's growth

Eighty per cent of businesses in the North East believe that the region's transport infrastructure hinders economic growth, according to a survey published this week.

More than 90% of members of the North East Chamber of Commerce said they had faced increased operating costs as a direct result of the UK's failing transport infrastructure, while 68% had actually lost business as a result.

The region's overburdened transport network was estimated to cost businesses in the North East £22,256 - £4,906 higher than the national figure.

Ross Smith, head of policy and research at NECC, said: "It is critical that both central government and public bodies with a responsibility for transport within the region recognise the economic contribution that transport makes.

"In line with that, we need to have a real strategy for making sure that transport in the North East is effective for businesses carrying out their activities. It should also help us gain access to important markets so that the region can continue to grow economically.

"We need to improve the north/south connections through the region by tackling the A19 around the Tyne Tunnel and the A1 north through Northumberland.

"There should also be proper measures to stop the East Coast Main Line reaching gridlock in the next few years, including considering the case for a new north-south high speed rail line."

The survey, conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce, also showed that more than half of NECC members (56 per cent) felt that air transport was important to their business - 23% more than the UK average.

"It shows that it is really crucial for our export businesses to reach international markets," said Mr Smith. "It is important to make sure that our international links from the airports and ports are strong and that there is a good transport network into them."

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