Some of you have commented that London has grown faster because it has taken a disproprtionate share of the infrastructure investment. It is difficult to square this with the reality.
The truth is that much of the UK is short of transport capacity. The country is gradually benefitting from a big expansion of digital broadband capacity, with major investment in all regions. London, the south-east and the east are suffering more than the rest of the country from a failure to invest in enough reservoir capacity for water demands. Electricity is delivered by national grid, and gas and oil are shared around the whole country. There is, it is true, only one high speed train line from London to the Channel tunnel. The rest of the railway network was shared around by Victorian entrepreneurs who put substantial capacity into the then prosperous industrial regions. Modern subsidy perpetuates the broad shape of the Victorian railway, as adjusted by Beeching.
If you look at road investment the south of the country has received less motorway investment than the Midlands, Lancashire and Yorkshire. East Anglia, Devon and Cornwall, Lincolnshire and Northumberland have all been left out of the motorway age.
All four major urban complexes, London, Birmingham.,Manchester and the Yorkshire urban area have their motorway boxes. The M 25, the M42, and the M60 are ringways for London, Birmingham and Manchester. The Yorkshire motorway box links Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster and the other main cities.
The London ringway is fed by the M1, M11, M2,M20, M23, M3, M4 and M 40. Despite the varied links, there is no motorway link from London to anywhere on the south coast between Folkestone and Portsmouth, no motorway to the crucial ports of Harwich and Felixstowe, no motorway or continuous dual carriageway link along the route of the A303 to the west country. The south has no motorway or continuous dual carriageway along the south coast. The capacity on the main routes west is poor for the heavy traffic volumes, especially in the M4 corridor.
The Birmingham ringway is fed by the M6, the M40, the M5, the M 54, the M45 and the M 69. There are good Birmingham motorway links to London ( 2 options), the west country, Lancashire and the north west, and to the M1 north. The A14 haul road to Felixstowe is of reasonable standard.
The Manchester ringway is fed by the M62, M56, M61 and M 66. There are motorway links to all the main towns and cities in Lancashire, across the Pennines to Yorkshire and north to the Lakes and Scotland, as well as south to London.
The Yorkshire broader ring has links to the A(1) M, the M62, the M18, the M 180 and the M1. This links the cities to each other, to the East Midlands and London to the south, Lancashire across the Pennines, to Kingston upon Hull and Scunthorpe.
The government has stated its wish to expand transport, broadband, water, electricity and other energy capacity. Much of the investment can be made by the private sector. Electricity capacity is urgently required, and will be available nationally. Water capacity is needed in the south and east, where water companies have failed to keep pace with growing demand. I would be interested to hear from contributors about what expansion of road and rail capacity they would like to see, and how much of any additional capacity could be privately financed. Getting more out of our existing railway is a story for another day, but an important one. Having enough airport and seaport capacity is also a crucial issue, as economic development normally flows from proximity to a good port.