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RAC warns of ‘severe congestion’

Report calls for more or wider roads

One thousand miles of major road routes face severe congestion in the future unless new capacity is created, a report prepared for the RAC Foundation said today.

London’s already-busy orbital road, the M25, and areas around Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool are among the routes most at risk of gridlock by 2041, the report said.

The report, Roads And Reality, said new road capacity is essential whether or not national road pricing goes ahead.

Extra roads

It added that building an extra 372 lane miles of road would ‘yield substantial benefits in journey times and reliability’.

The figure is the equivalent of building one extra lane of 372 miles in length.

The report added that road pricing without road building will just drive poorer people off the roads. It also said that by 2041, car ownership will be 44% higher and car traffic will increase by 37%.

Cars ‘will get greener’

At present, road users are ‘the only energy users currently paying the full cost of their carbon emissions’, the report added.

It also said that cars would continue to get greener and cleaner towards 2050.

The report said the Government had ‘some tough choices to make’ to avoid severe congestion by 2041. National road pricing would help to get the most efficient use out of the system but it was not a substitute to investment in new roads.

Road pricing

The report said a pricing system would only be accepted if it was guaranteed to be:

  • Fair, with charges based on the cost of travelling in congestion.
  • A different way of paying, not a way of paying more – other motoring taxes must fall if pricing is introduced.
  • Overseen by an independent body.

Roads ‘at risk of gridlock’

Based on analysis of traffic forecasts, Roads And Reality identifies the following corridors as being at the highest risk of gridlock by 2041:


London-Ipswich A12

London-Cambridge-Peterborough M11/A14

London-Peterborough A1

London-Birmingham-North West M1/M6

London-South West M3, A35, A303

Other London radial routes M20, A3, M23, M4, M40

Peterborough-Norwich A47

Nottingham-Leeds M1, A1

Teesside-Tyneside A1, A19

Liverpool-Manchester-Leeds M56, M62

London orbital M25

Birmingham orbital M42, M5, M6

Manchester orbital M56

New approach

Commenting on the report, RAC Foundation chairman David Holmes, said: ‘The government’s recent transport White Paper launched a debate on transport policy and investment, focusing on the needs of users. This report, produced by an independent team of leading experts in transport, is an authoritative contribution to that debate.

‘Building on last year’s (transport) report by Sir Rod Eddington, it calls for an new approach to long-term planning of transport infrastructure; recognition of the importance of roads to the economy and our way of life; and an early start to seriously tackling congestion.’

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