Transport system in the UK

An Expert's View about River and Canal Transport in the United Kingdom

Posted on: 30 Aug 2010

This fact sheet is an overview of the UK transport system.

TRANSPORT SYSTEM IN THE UK This information sheet summarises the UK transport system. The factors covered are: 1. Overview of the UK transport system 2. Air 3. Road 4. Rail 5. Sea 6. Further information 1. OVERVIEW OF THE UK TRANSPORT SYSTEM With an integrated system of airports, seaports, rail and road, businesses located in the UK can select the optimal method of moving people and freight between major cities and locations, both within the UK and internationally. The main advantages of the UK transport system include: ? excellent air links to locations all over the world from world-class international airports such as Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Birmingham and Glasgow, ? an advanced and comprehensive road system that links all locations throughout the UK, ? a privatised rail network linking all locations across the UK and, through the Channel Tunnel, all locations in mainland Europe, and ? over 100 seaports across the UK, handling the largest volume of seaport traffic in Europe. For detailed information on the UK transport system, please contact the Department for Transport (DFT) on +44 (0)300 330 3000 or see 2. AIR The UK has the largest air transport system in Europe, accounting for 217 million passengers (Source: Eurostat, 2009) and the top four busiest international air routes. Figure 1: Busiest international air routes in the European Union Passengers Rank Inter-city pairs (000s) 1 London Heathrow Dublin 1,974 2 London Heathrow Amsterdam 1,799 3 London Heathrow Paris CDG 1,790 4 London Heathrow Frankfurt 1,446 5 Rome Paris CDG 1,345 Source: Eurostat, 2009 (based on the latest data from 2007) The leading airports in the UK are: ? London Heathrow: the largest and busiest international airport in Europe and the third largest globally, handling over 65 million passengers a year. Ninety airlines fly to 179 destinations worldwide, operating an average of 1,250 flights a day. For further information, please see: ? London Gatwick: the busiest single-runway airport in the world, with over 32 million passengers handled each year. Ninety airlines fly to 213 different destinations, operating an average of over 700 flights a day. For further information, please see: ? Manchester Airport: the third largest airport in the UK, handling 22 million passengers each year. Over 100 airlines fly to 225 different destinations, operating an average of 600 flights a day. For further information, please see: Other major international airports in the UK include Birmingham International, London Stansted, London Luton, Nottingham East Midlands, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Newcastle, Robin Hood Airport (Sheffield), Cardiff and Belfast International. Figure 2 shows the number of daily direct flights during the working week from selected UK airports to key global business destinations. Figure 2: Number of daily direct scheduled flights from selected UK airports London London City Manchester Birmingham Glasgow Heathrow Paris 17 4 8 11 3 Amsterdam 16 9 5 6 2 Frankfurt 15 6 7 8 - Brussels 10 5 6 3 1 Milan 13 5 2 2 1 Barcelona 7 1 1 1 - New York 25 2 2 1 1 Los Angeles 12 - - - 1 Chicago 9 - 1 - - Tokyo 5 - - - - Delhi 6 - - - - Shanghai 2 - - - - Source: OAG, 2010 3. ROAD The UK has an advanced and comprehensive road transport system, with a total of 394,000 kilometres of roads (Source: DFT, 2009). There are almost 3,600 kilometres of motorways, all of which are toll-free except for the M6 Toll adjacent to the M6 in Birmingham. Figure 3 gives examples of typical journey times by car from London to key national and international destinations. Figure 3: Typical journey times by car from London to key destinations London to: Distance Duration by car Birmingham 190km 2 hours 17 minutes Manchester 320km 3 hours 44 minutes Edinburgh 643km 7 hours 19 minutes Brussels* 369km 4 hours 25 minutes Paris* 460km 5 hours 24 minutes Source: Bing, 2010 *excluding Channel Tunnel crossing time The latest figures from the European Union (Source: Eurostat, 2010) show that 88.5 per cent of all UK freight is transported by road; indeed, in terms of servicing the UK market, lorries that collect from a centrally-located depot can deliver anywhere in the UK and return within 24 hours. For specific quotations on individual freight consignments in the UK, mainland Europe and globally, please contact members of the following trade associations: ? Freight Transport Association: ? British International Freight Association: ? Road Haulage Association: 4. RAIL The UK has a privatised rail network linking all locations across the country and, through the Eurostar connection and the Channel Tunnel, key locations in Europe (See Figure 4). Figure 4: Typical journey times by rail from London to key destinations London to: Duration by rail Birmingham 1 hour 22 minutes Manchester 2 hours 7 minutes Edinburgh 4 hours 19 minutes Brussels 1 hour 58 minutes Paris 2 hours 15 minutes Source: Eurostar/Qjump, 2010 For further information about specific passenger rail journeys in the UK, please see: Privatisation of the rail network and the introduction of the Channel Tunnel rail route have led to increasing volumes of freight being transported by rail in the UK ? indeed, over 24 billion tonnes/km of freight are transported by rail each year (Source: Eurostat, 2010). For more information about rail freight, please see: 5. SEA The UK ports and harbours industry is one of the largest in Europe, with over 100 active ports operating across the UK. Major container ports are at Felixstowe, Southampton, Thamesport, Tilbury and Liverpool; major estuary ports include London, Tees, Hartlepool and Grimsby/Immingham. UK ports handle over 560 million tonnes of freight each year, the largest volume in the European Union (see Figure 5). Figure 5: Transport of goods by sea ? leading European Union nations Volume Country (million tonnes) UK 562 Netherlands 530 Italy 526 Spain 416 France 352 Germany 321 Belgium 244 Sweden 188 Source: Eurostat, 2010 Most UK ports have been privatised and the majority are able to take containers. Same-day delivery is standard from most UK centres to locations in Europe such as Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and Hamburg. Next-day delivery is routine to centres such as Marseilles, Frankfurt and Milan. For further information concerning sea and waterway transport, please contact the British Ports Association: 6. FURTHER INFORMATION This information sheet was updated in March 2010. As information changes from time to time, please contact the organisations listed or UK Trade & Investment to confirm any item that you intend to rely on. This information sheet was produced by the Marketing Group of: UK Trade & Investment 9th Floor Kingsgate House 66-74 Victoria Street London SW1E 6SW Tel: +44 (0)20 7215 4957 Email: Website:
Posted: 30 August 2010