Rail, not road
I NOTE (The Hunts Post, March 12) that the costs of the A14 Fen Ditton to Ellington road scheme have now been confirmed as almost £1billion (£944million or £42.9million per mile). This cost escalation is not unexpected – the Highways Agency has been criti
I NOTE (The Hunts Post, March 12) that the costs of the A14 Fen Ditton to Ellington road scheme have now been confirmed as almost £1billion (£944million or £42.9million per mile). This cost escalation is not unexpected - the Highways Agency has been criticised in the past for significantly under-estimating the costs of major projects.
As a resident of Brampton, the village worst affected, I have been alerting Government Ministers to the effects of this road scheme (10 lanes of traffic - 114,600 vehicles daily) for some time and urging its cancellation. Building new roads has long been recognised as the wrong approach to solving congestion problems.
The Minister of State for Transport, Rosie Winterton MP, recently said: "We know we cannot simply build our way out of congestion. We are committed to exploring innovative ways of getting more from the existing transport network..."
There is an existing transport network which in the past seemed destined to be overlooked and under-funded by the Department for Transport - the rail network; in particular the rail freight network to and from our south and east coast ports, gateways to the industrial and commercial centres of this country.
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A viable rail freight route already exists (Felixstowe-Nuneaton) which could relieve traffic congestion along the length of the A14 from Felixstowe to Huntingdon instead of merely from Cambridge. This has recently received some £60million Government funding to increase its capacity. Much more funding is needed - though this could still be considerably less than the £944million approved for the road scheme.
Significant investment in rail infrastructure is surely the way forward. As freight and passenger traffic share the same tracks, funds invested would presumably benefit both forms of traffic. This would doubtless be welcomed by the travelling public as well as the big High Street companies (Marks & Spencer, Tesco) already switching freight to rail as part of their corporate strategy.
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Perhaps the time has come for the Prime Minister to take a leaf out of President Sarkozy's book and place a moratorium on new road building while reviewing the case for investing in strategic rail infrastructure. This could release up to a total of some £10billion of public money for redistribution within the national economy. Why wait?
Mrs EILEEN COLLIER