Transport as the transfer of people, goods and services has become so paramount to modern economies, including the United Kingdom, that it has become one of the most diverse forms of infrastructure. All development in social and economic activities has incorporation to transport. In the United Kingdom, facilitation of transport is via road, rail, air, and water networks. In this essay is a summary of each means of transport.
The most widespread form of transport is road. The road network in the United Kingdom covers over 40,000 km of prime roads, 12,500 km of trunk roads, 115,600 km of class “B” and “C” roads, and more than 233,400 km of uncategorized roads that include access roads and local streets. The total extent of paved and unpaved highways is 317,913 km (Source: World standards on Users.pandora.be).
Road transport alone accounts for movement of over 90% of mechanical passenger travel and 65% of national cargo. Most motorways are double carriageway, which link cities and major towns, accounting for a third of United Kingdom’s traffic. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road and the speed limit is 110 km/h on motorways. Personal vehicles account for most of the motorized passengers, with buses and coaches following at second and third respectively.
- Rail Transport
Railways network in United Kingdom consists of two autonomous segments.
The National Rail of Great Britain is the oldest of its kind in the world. It consists of five high-speed main channels that radiate from London to the rest of Great Britain. This system has 16,536 km of track. This railway system connects to mainland Europe via the Channel Tunnel.
The Northern Ireland Railways in Northern Ireland has 342 km of track. It connects to the railway system in the Republic of Ireland.
Tube or London Underground rapid transit system is the most common form of rail transport in London. Use of motor vehicles has slowly replaced tram and light rail systems though they are still popular in some towns and cities in the UK.
- Air and Aviation
The UK has a total of 471 airports and airfields, and 11 heliports. There is an average of 985,300 registered domestic and international take-offs of air carriers in UK per year. (Source: World Development Indicators database). The total freight is 5,998.43 million tons/km. The largest airline is British Airways who operate both local and international flights.
The UK is an island so water transport has always been a major means of transport since it was the only way to get to and from the country before the development of air transport and the Channel Tunnel. Ports and harbors are around the UK in major coastal cities and towns. Inland waterways were common means of transport but are now mainly for recreational purposes and cover about 3,199 km.