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Call for 'fit for purpose' road network in region as Suffolk and Norfolk transport plan highlights poor journey speeds

PUBLISHED: 09:04 09 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:04 09 May 2018

Andrew Harston at The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce Prestige Dinner.

Andrew Harston at The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce Prestige Dinner.

Poor average journey times on the region's key routes has led to business chiefs calling for a "fit for purpose" road network to tackle congestion.

Chris Starkie at the New Anglia LEP. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDChris Starkie at the New Anglia LEP. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Data prepared for the new transport strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk has revealed slow average speeds on major routes.

Car journeys from Ipswich to Lowestoft have an average speed of 37mph, while Ipswich to Norwich is 36mph. Despite mostly travelling on the A14, Ipswich to Felixstowe is a 34mph average.

The strategy has also highlighted severe congestion on the A14 around Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, as well as below average numbers of people using public transport.

Andrew Harston, chairman of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce’s transport and infrastructure board (TIB), said: “The average speeds along key arterial routes in Suffolk sum up the frustration and business risk of many users of our county’s highways.

“For Suffolk to continue contributing as it does to the national economy, we need our strategic and major roads to be fit for that purpose.

“The TIB has contributed ideas to and endorsed the transport strategy and is confident that it contains the right elements which if funded and fully implemented will help secure that vital economic objective.”

The strategy, put together by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and county councils, has highlighted areas of improvement over the next three to five years – while also looking ahead to the 2040s.

Among some of the priority areas are Ipswich, Norwich, the energy coast, and key routes such as the A14 and A47.

The plan proposes to improve routes to and from the key ports in Felixstowe, Ipswich and Lowestoft, improve connections to local airports in Norwich, Stansted and Luton, make upgrades to rail junctions and introduce digital rail signalling to reduce failures.

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin said it had an impact on business and the economy of the region when transport infrastructure was not up to scratch.

He said: “Getting out of Ipswich is the problem, and I don’t think the government is putting enough effort to dealing with congestion.

“The majority of congestion is in urban areas. That’s not to say it isn’t in rural areas, but what I am saying is we need to get the numbers right.”

New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership response

Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The Integrated Transport Strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk will clearly evidence where investment in transport is needed and what this investment could achieve.

“It looks at how our local economy might develop over the coming years and the transport interventions needed to support this.

“It will be used to guide investment decisions from national and local partners.

“To create an environment where businesses can flourish, our transport infrastructure needs improving and consideration needs to be given to how we will live, work and travel in future.

“We know that effective transport networks can help to boost inward investment and business growth.

“They can also unlock opportunities for inclusive growth across all communities and provide people with better and safe access to services, products and opportunities.”

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