Transport call for A303 dualling after weather costs £167m
A BODY representing firms across the South West has called for the A303 to be dualled after it found recent road and rail disruption cost businesses £167 million.
A new survey by the South West Chambers of Commerce found that 65 per cent of businesses in the region were affected by road closures and rail delays and cancellations as a result of snow and flooding over the last few months.
Two respondents said disruption had cost their businesses more than £500,000, with one saying that none of their employees had been able to get to work at one point because of problems on the road network.
In December, a landslide caused by severe flooding closed the Bristol rail line between Exeter and Tiverton for five days, with train operator First Great Western advising passengers not to travel by rail to Devon and Cornwall.
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At one point, a section of the A39 at Perranarworthal was also closed because of the floods, with dozens more minor roads across the region also affected and parts of the Somerset Levels under water up to three weeks later.
More than 350 businesses took part in the survey and the results are set to inform a lobbying campaign aimed at securing investment to upgrade the region's fragile road and rail infrastructure. Currently the M5 is the only completely dual carriageway road route into the region.
Derek Phillips, chairman of South West Chambers of Commerce, said: "Our message to Government is that the South West has received far less than its fair share of investment in transport infrastructure for far too long and it is time that this unacceptable situation ceases.
"We are specifically looking for electrification of the rail line south of Bristol into Cornwall, the dualling of the A303 and A30 along their entire lengths and much improved mobile and wi-fi connectivity along the arterial routes to the South West."
The chambers are highlighting new statistics which show that the average public sector spend for transport in 2010/11 was just £212 per person in the South West, the lowest figure in the UK, and just over a quarter of the spend per person in London.
They say transport problems have meant the late or non-arrival of staff and clients; cancelled or postponed appointments and business trips; cancelled hotel bookings; a drop in customers for retail companies and resource issues for businesses relying on an inward supply of goods.