A report by the Institute of Economic Affairs, Paving over the tracks, a better use of Britain’s railways? has suggested a radical approach to increasing commuter capacity.
The report, by Paul Withrington and Richard Wellings, suggests converting current commuter railway lines into paved busways would provide a much-needed capacity boost far more speedily and with much less cost and complexity than through railway infrastructure.
However, despite the numerous advantages the two highlight in their work, they contend that politicisation of the transport sector has stifled the market forces which would otherwise be allowed to dictate modal choice by mobility suppliers.
Moreover, they state, with huge amounts of government subsidy at stake there is a powerful lobby with a significant interest in maintaining the status quo.
'It should be market forces which best decide the use of transport infrastructure, and owners should be able to convert from one mode to another as conditions and needs change,' said Mr Wellings.