A new strategy for freight transport across the Marches will aim to reduce congestion, shorten journey times and find ways to support businesses moving goods from A to B.
That was the message to representatives from companies at a business breakfast which sought to identify the areas of the freight transport network in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin which most urgently require investment.
Roads under discussions included the A49, the A41, the A5 and the M54, including how it connects to the M6 and other main trunk roads in the region.
Organised by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, the event was opened by Graham Wynn OBE, Chair of the LEP, and led by Chris Rowland, Managing Director of MDS Transmodal, a specialist freight transport consultancy. Businesses included those from the logistics and haulage sectors attended to give their views.
Opening the event, Graham Wynn commented:
“We know that several of the region’s primary trunk roads are an issue and the process we’re currently going through is aimed at better understanding how they impact productivity and inward investment.
“In order to secure funding that can be used to address some of these issues, we need to be able to demonstrate to Highways England the views, concerns and frustrations of the very people whose livelihoods depend on an efficient transport network.
“Simply, the involvement of the businesses here is vital so that the strategy we develop is in line with the issues they face.”
Through a series of group discussions, delegates debated what the key issues in relation to freight movement across the Marches are and what the options to address them might be.
Sophia Haywood, Policy Executive at Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, also attended the event. She commented:
“It’s vital that the Marches Freight Transport Strategy addresses some of the biggest issues for Herefordshire, such as the redevelopment of the A49, road maintenance and the serious lack of passing places on key routes. However, this is a long term strategy and businesses need a much quicker solution if we want to see continued economic growth and investment in the county.”
Chris Rowland spoke of the research that has already been carried out which identifies the nature of freight transport throughout the Marches and explained what the resultant strategy will aim to address:
“The strategy that we produce will need to address issues around reducing congestion; better managing freight activity and provide evidence to support the major capital projects which could help address them.”
Mr Rowland also spoke of some of the key issues facing freight transport in the Marches, including journey lengths; lack of route choice; the impact of congestion on nearby motorways on the trunk network in the region and the how local residents are affected by freight transport.
“From suggestions for better collaboration between freight operators, to looking at ways of reducing risk and improving quality, the views shared here today are invaluable and will help to shape a strategy that will make the freight transport experience more positive across the whole region,” he added.