RAC fears over lack of roads spending as cars increase

Traffic jam on the A40 Four million extra cars are expected on the roads in the coming years as the population rises

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Motorists face longer delays on Britain's roads because of more cars and lower transport infrastructure spending, says the RAC Foundation.

Four million more cars will be on the roads in the next 25 years, says a report by the foundation.

But the report warns: "Ministers have not explained what plans they have to cope with the bleak picture painted by their own numbers".

Roads Minister Mike Penning said £4bn was earmarked for various projects.

The report foretells a 43% rise in traffic volume by 2035, with the biggest increase in the East Midlands.

The foundation, working with consultancy group Arup, identified 96 road schemes which were "currently sitting on the Department for Transport's shelves".


  • A453 widening (M1 to A52) Nottingham - £153m
  • A5-M1 Dunstable northern bypass, Bedfordshire - £146m
  • A21 Tonbridge to Pembury dual carriageway, Kent - £117m
  • Kingkerswell bypass, Devon - £110m
  • Leeds Inner Ring Road - £43m
  • A38(M) Tame viaduct, West Midlands - £31m
  • A47 Blofield to North Burlingham, Norfolk - £26m
  • Evesham bridge maintenance, Worcestershire - £14m
  • A45 westbound bridge, Solihull, West Midlands - £13m
  • A18-A180 link, Lincolnshire - £8m

The foundation claimed the top 10 projects on this list would offer significant returns on their investments - more than £6 for every £1 invested.

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "Forget about Plan B, ministers do not even have a Plan A for dealing with the awful conditions forecast for the roads in the years ahead. It is a case of jams today, and even more jams tomorrow.

"The Department for Transport's own figures show that by 2035 traffic is set to rise by almost 50% and delays by more than 50%. And these are only average figures."

Mr Penning said: "Transport investment was treated as a priority for government in the spending review and we have committed £4 billion on Highways Agency major projects, capital maintenance and enhancements.

"This substantial investment, alongside funding for the local road network, will drive economic growth and boost the UK economy."

He added: "An independent review of the Highways Agency is also under way to examine options for improving the efficiency, effectiveness and performance of our strategic road network."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    Half the problem with the motorways is the Highways Agency who are a complete waste of time when it comes to taking action to try and ease congestion. Im not talking about when there is a serious accident but surely they could look into taking positive actions such as stopping HGV's overtaking during peak times, use of the hard shoulder etc - the UK grinds to a halt while the HA do nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.

    3. John Byng. Too many people on too small an island. When will people (especially politicians) finally accept this as true?

    Ha ha. Sounds like someone who lives in the crowded South East! Take a trip north of Watford Gap and you'll find that there are oodles of open space on these islands yet! Only 717 people per square mile on average but where I live only 249 per square mile.

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    322: wagon load traffic on the railways declined because companies switched to road freight for distribution. From the 60s onwards it was decided that the railways should concentrate on bulk flows as they work much better by rail than by road. Lorries are far more flexible for moving small loads between diverse locations. People, however, can move themselves between transport modes quite easily.

  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    Four million cars??!?? I can only see 21 cars in the picture above...... and one motorcyclist. They're trying to pull the wool over our eyes!!! It's a conspiracy. There are NO cars! It's all in our imagination!

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    People object to new road-building. And new rail lines. And new airports. And then they want fast cheap travel.

    Best of luck to any ghovernment trying to square that circle. Both main parties have tried, and failed. And it's not going to change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 342.

    Let's be radical. Bring in and enforce car quotas (ie you can only drive every other day). Big tax breaks for employers allowing home workers. Permits required for school run parents living within 3 miles of their school.

    Building more roads is insanity. Sadly, that is what is likely to happen in a democracy where ignorant, selfish people are the lowest common denominator.

  • rate this

    Comment number 341.

    275. Realityview
    'Please explain to me how I can carry my wife and 18month old on a bike?' Buy your wife a bike of her own, and fit a bike child seat on your and/or her bike. As for your 35 miles, I commute 70 miles by bike and train: I take it on the train (it folds). Shopping: see my reply to No. 293. Amazingly public transport exists in the UK, you just have to want to use it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 340.

    Frank What a well-reasoned comment: NOT.
    Do you, or the many endorsing your comment, have any grasp of the logistics of road transport, or how lorries actually function? The notion of a convoy - wagon train perhaps - is ludicrous. All vehicles are different - with differing performances and loads/destinations. To imagine such a thing could work shows just how many people live in fantasy land.

  • rate this

    Comment number 339.

    Right, so they can foretell the death rate when people stop driving altogether, and of drivers just giving up driving altogether-for any reason, Hav`nt they heard of the multitudes of young peolple who cannot take up driving due to insurance costs to filter through yet. The car and space to drive is here to stay for those who want them. Blurp, splodge boke to this report, they know nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    329 crowdriver and where do I put my children ( too young to cycle)? which is a cause for more shopping. what about disabled/elderly people? we do not live in the one size fits all world that some people on here think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 337.

    The number of people in the world is a huge problem. We desparately need the various religions to stop spouting on about huge families in an attempt to take over the world by force of numbers.
    The ideal would be to see the worlds population on a downward curve - that means each man needs to father no more than one child.

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    311. nickburks remind me what the CO2 emissions of bicycles are again, also the damage they cause on the roads every year..

    i think the point they make here is that if we use our legs, we stay healthy and encourage less consumption

    you really think you're helping by being another driver? what are you honestly contributing?

    i think your indignant attitude serves to point out that you cba to bike

  • rate this

    Comment number 335.

    Imagine you live in a UK core city with 250,000 car commutes in/out during rush hours. Now imagine a 10% reduction. Fantastic eh?

    But wait. The 25,000 moved from their cars now need buses. With an average double decker that's 350 new buses, drivers and servicing facilities. All of these will only be need at rush hours - the rest of the day they stand idle.

    It's a non-starter sans subsidies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    Also not on this list - the A303. Permanently congested, in summer and winter. It's so obvious that it's needed - the only east-west trunk route from London, apart from the M4.

    And with tourism rapidly replacing industry in this country, we need a way to get to the delights of Devon and Cornwall.

    Solve the Stonehenge problem, and get it done now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 333.

    Once there were motorists and motoring was considered a pleasure. Then we got better roads more cars and we became drivers. Driving here, there and hopefully somewhere. In most British cities getting around is slower today than Henry VIII ever experienced by horse and carriage. More cars on the roads? My hunch is that it will lead to more stress, more unhappiness. Progress!

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    The UK is too dependant on cars. In Europe and America the majority of transport is done by boat and train. Europe's transport systems are state of the art, if anyones ever visitedGermany you will notice how few cars there are and how few lorries are on the roads.
    Yes the British peoples car culture needs to change but the gove needs to built up decent public transport network

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    Did it occur to anyone the reason why you will have more cars on the road is because we will have more people wanting them. Everything comes back to the fact we have too many people in our tiny little island.
    Over to you politicians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    Joe 325 I have the same problem my daughter walks past our local school to get a bus to a school 3 miles away its madness, yet some other child is doing the opposite journey and many more doing this in cars. We have had no increase in schools to accomodate the increased population same as the road network

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    293. Iselworth
    It is perfectly possible to go shopping with a bicycle. All you need is a rear rack and two panniers. If you do a big supermarket run, use a bike trailer. Or really go to town and buy a cargo bike. As used by ordinary people in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden...

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    I don't see a problem. I drive my Porsche from my penthouse in NW London to my banking job in Canary Wharf, SE London, every day in rush hour, and back in the evening. I don't think the traffic is too bad at all otherwise I'd use public transport, wouldn't I!? I think more traffic in the future is good. More time to enjoy time in my Porsche alone listening to Chris Moyles before the chaos of work!


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