Rail tops housing as chief infrastructure priority for Britons

Investment in rail infrastructure is the number one priority for Britons, with housing supply and local road networks tied in second place, a survey of public attitudes on infrastructure has found.

Rail infrastructure: top investment priority for Britons
Rail infrastructure: top investment priority for Britons

The findings of the latest Global Infrastructure Index survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI in partnership with the Global Infrastructure Investor Association (GIIA), reveal that almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of the British public agree that investing in infrastructure is vital to the country’s future economic growth, but 58 per cent do not believe enough is being done to meet infrastructure needs.

Asked which types of infrastructure should be made a priority for investment, respondents identified rail (45 per cent), new housing (40 per cent) and local road networks (40 per cent) as their top priorities. The motorway and major road network came next, with 31 per cent.

New housing supply was the number one priority for Britons in 2016 but was overtaken by rail in 2017.

Elsewhere, 67 per cent of respondents agreed that "local communities' views on plans for infrastructure should be heard properly, even if it means delays". A further 57 per cent agreed that "as a country we don’t do enough to involve people in decisions about which infrastructure to invest in".

Just 21 per cent agreed with the statement that "my local area gets its fair share of GB’s investment in infrastructure". 36 per cent disagreed.

Andy Rose, chief executive officer of the GIIA, said: "Climate change, technological advances and ageing populations all pose unprecedented challenges for governments in delivering their future infrastructure needs at a time when public sector balance sheets are under increasing strain.

"Governments and regulators should be focused on the outcomes of good-quality infrastructure and working with the private sector to find the best ways to deliver, operate and improve our infrastructure for the benefit of future generations".

The survey sampled 20,286 people across 29 countries.

Last month, ministers pledged to publish next year a "comprehensive national infrastructure strategy" setting out the government's priorities for economic infrastructure. The strategy will include a formal response to the National Infrastructure Commission's national infrastructure assessment, which was published in July.

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