Transport

Well planned and integrated transport investment can be an important ingredient in driving economic growth and improving quality of life.

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Bus in Bristol picking up passengers

Summary

The Commission undertakes research into specific transport proposals when asked to do so by government, but also advises on broader questions of policy and approach to planning upgrades and new investment in road, rail, and other transport modes.

The Commission transport work covers road, rail, and other modes of transport. We focus on what different these modes each do best and how they integrate with other types of transport to create the most efficient and user friendly systems for passengers and support the economic geography of the country and, in particular, its towns and cities. Our work seeks to anticipate future usage trends, such as the impact of the recent pandemic on public transport, to help inform robust recommendations for investment and policy making.
With a long term perspective, the Commission also considers likely developments in technology and what investment should be made to prepare our networks for the future.
With almost a quarter of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions currently coming from surface transport, we actively consider the importance of decarbonising the UK’s travel by developing lower emission public transport systems and preparing for the widescale use of electric vehicles. Tackling urban congestion and other barriers to growth where travel solutions – in particular, better public transport – can play a role are significant challenges shaping our work.
The Second National Infrastructure Assessment, published in October 2023 states that improving transport provision is crucial to the goal of levelling up economic opportunities in all parts of the country and improving the quality of life. To this end, the Assessment addresses two key challenges: how improved urban mobility and addressing congestion, and how multimodal interurban transport strategies, can both support regional growth.
The Assessment shows that getting more people making more trips into and around city centres is essential for English cities outside of London to have any chance of succeeding in levelling up their regional economies. To do that, cities will need flexible strategic transport plans that can adapt to a range of future transport demand scenarios; to avoid adding to existing congestion and undermining net zero efforts, they’ll need to actively shift more of those additional journeys from cars onto other modes of transport. So, cities will need to make improvements that ensure public transport and active travel are more attractive and reliable options for more travellers, while also giving serious consideration to some form of demand management.
Our work on interurban transport recommends a transport strategy built around a single vision to drive economic opportunity and narrow disparities between regions and protect and enhance the environment. This needs to incorporate strategic roads and major roads as well as heavy rail projects.
The decision to cancel HS2 north of Birmingham leaves a major gap in the UK’s rail strategy around which a number of cities have based their economic growth plans. While government has committed to re-allocate all the released funding to improve transport, including rail links, in the North and Midlands, it is not yet clear what the exact scope and delivery schedule is for the proposed new rail schemes. A new comprehensive, long term and fully costed plan that sets out how rail improvements will address the capacity and connectivity challenges facing city regions in the North and Midlands is needed.

Transport data

A range of transport data sets is available to review on our Data pages. This includes data sets used in Commission reports, as well as historic data sets. Each can be reviewed online or downloaded.

Review data

Latest Updates

The pre-election period: 25 May – 4 July 2024
Houses of Parliament

The pre-election period: 25 May – 4 July 2024

In the run-up to the UK General Election, the Commission – like other public sector bodies – is required to act in accordance with the 2024 General Election guidance. The Commission offers independent advice to the government of the day, and it is not appropriate for it to engage in discussion of government policy during...

25 May 2024 By
Infrastructure Progress Review 2024
Cover graphic for IPR24

Infrastructure Progress Review 2024

Our latest annual review of government progress in delivering its major infrastructure objectives.

16 May 2024
Window closing on infrastructure catch up, warn government advisers
Cover graphic for IPR24

Window closing on infrastructure catch up, warn government advisers

Failure to go further, faster over the next five years on plans for infrastructure delivery could constrain economic growth and threaten climate targets, according to the government’s official infrastructure advisers. Noting the UK has faced several years of disruption from Covid and the cost-of-living crisis, the National Infrastructure Commission’s annual review charts a mixed picture...

16 May 2024 By
James Heath: urgent planning reform needed to remove “binding constraint” on UK’s economic future
A modern bridge over a dual carriageway cutting through British farmland

James Heath: urgent planning reform needed to remove “binding constraint” on UK’s economic future

James Heath, chief executive of the National Infrastructure Commission, spoke at the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects Forum in London yesterday (6 March). James offered the Commission’s view on the vital importance of speeding up the planning regime for major projects, given the need for pace in delivering tens of billions of pounds’ worth of schemes...

7 Mar 2024 By
Digital future for UK roads network focus of new Commission study
Graphic showing autonomous cars

Digital future for UK roads network focus of new Commission study

Harnessing the potential of digitally connected autonomous cars and commercial vehicles to increase road safety, tackle congestion and improve the accessibility of transport services will be the focus of a new National Infrastructure Commission study on connected and automated mobility (CAM). The government has today (12 February) published the terms of reference for the study,...

12 Feb 2024 By
Connected and automated mobility
Graphic showing autonomous cars

Connected and automated mobility

A study exploring the implications of this emerging technology for the future management of the UK's roads and digital infrastructure.

12 Feb 2024
Cost effective delivery of infrastructure projects
New motorway junction being built

Cost effective delivery of infrastructure projects

Project exploring how the UK can build economic infrastructure more quickly and cheaply, and compare favourably with its international peers.

24 Jan 2024
Impact and costings for recommendations in the Second National Infrastructure Assessment
Leeds urban transport

Impact and costings for recommendations in the Second National Infrastructure Assessment

25 Oct 2023
Long term review sets out pressing need to modernise infrastructure to support economic growth and climate action
Scout Moor windarm and the Naden Reservoirs near Rochdale

Long term review sets out pressing need to modernise infrastructure to support economic growth and climate action

Improved infrastructure to boost economic growth across the UK and meet climate goals is both achievable and affordable if the right policy steps are taken now, according to the government’s independent advisers on infrastructure strategy. The Second National Infrastructure Assessment – a five yearly review conducted by the National Infrastructure Commission – sets out a...

18 Oct 2023 By
Data annex – Employment growth and urban connectivity of selected Primary Urban Areas
Birmingham from the air

Data annex – Employment growth and urban connectivity of selected Primary Urban Areas

18 Oct 2023
Prospective – Transport connectivity methodology

Prospective – Transport connectivity methodology

18 Oct 2023
Thinks Insight & Strategy – Social research
blurred Large crowd of people

Thinks Insight & Strategy – Social research

18 Oct 2023
Steer – Urban transport capacity, demand and cost
Family members standing, waiting at a bus stop smiling and laughing with each other. They are all wearing casual clothing.

Steer – Urban transport capacity, demand and cost

18 Oct 2023
Steer – Interurban transport connectivity assessment
Congestion on an arterial road in central Newcastle

Steer – Interurban transport connectivity assessment

18 Oct 2023
Second National Infrastructure Assessment
Scout Moor windarm and the Naden Reservoirs near Rochdale

Second National Infrastructure Assessment

The Commission's thirty year plan for a low carbon and resilient UK economy that supports economic growth and protects the natural environment

18 Oct 2023

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