NIC – National infrastructure needs ‘further action’

The UK needs to do more and better for road, rail and broadband infrastructure, according to the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).

The NIC has released its first annual monitoring report, which said “Further action is urgently needed to improve mobile phone coverage and digital connectivity on the UK’s roads and railways. It also raises concerns about the Government’s failure to establish a firm timetable or funding plan for either Crossrail 2 or the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme.”

NIC chairman Sir John Armitt, said: “Alongside progress, there is a disappointing lack of pace in several areas. Much greater urgency is needed in tackling the poor quality of mobile phone signal coverage on the UK’s major roads and railways lines.

“It is hugely disappointing that nearly two years after the Commission’s reports on Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, the Government still has not firmly committed to a timetable for funding or got a clear plan for delivering either of these nationally significant projects. It is vital that decisions on both schemes are made this year and that the Government commits to the long-term vision that supports the recommendations we made.

“It is also important that the Government does not lose sight of more immediate priorities. It is imperative that a Parliamentary vote on the expansion of Heathrow takes place no later than this summer. Any further delay would be irreconcilable with the Government’s commitment to deliver the infrastructure the country needs.”

The British International Freight Association said the report showed the value of having an independent National Infrastructure Commission to hold the government accountable for lack of action on key national infrastructure issues.

Director general Robert Keen said: “Of several projects it highlights as requiring urgent action in its 2018 annual report, the commission flags the continuing lack of a Parliamentary vote on a new runway at Heathrow, a key gateway for UK manufactured exports. Expansion at Heathrow is something on which BIFA has campaigned vociferously on behalf of its members.