The Transportation System In The UK


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What are the numerous transport systems in the UK? Transport systems in the UK are among the most advanced in the world. Today there are many reasons for people to celebrate the ability to move around the country with ease in many different ways. It can be stated that the transport system is essential infrastructure for a modern country. The history of transport in the UK is extensive. It includes the roads, railways, river and airplane transport systems.

African and Caribbean communities have contributed to the UK transport system as tunneler, conductors and drivers as a result we will highlight this. In this article we will give examples of how the transport system is used, plus some advantages and disadvantages of one of two of the systems.

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The Road System

The roads, highways and byways are the most important transportation system in the UK and if we think about all developed countries they are crucial for many reasons. These reasons include primarily moving goods and services from suppliers to customers and users. It is the ability that one can travel from A to B independently at anytime of the day that makes a the road network valuable.

If you restrict the natural ability of free movement of a person or an organisation to go about their business by road you restrict freedom, you restrict trade and you restrict convenience.

Traveling freely about the UK on the roads involves no planning you can just get up and go depending on your mode of transport. The way that you do this however differs. Cars are used by passengers for the most journeys. Developing countries should first look to make road planning a priority for their economic growth. The road are used for commuters to work, children to school, older citizens to health services or social centres. It is important however that the roads are reliable by making them safe and easy to use.

The concerns of the road network are mainly based around safety, pollution and congestion. How safe are roads? How polluted are road? How reliable are road? These are the question citizens are asking. Accidents, roadworks, breakdowns have knock on effects which cause delays in arriving at a destination. The cost of these delays are passed onto the driver or customer in their goods and services increasing in price. The has been in increase in technology to manage roads in the UK by the introduction of the smart motorway. There has been also the introduction of toll roads, bridges and tunnels in order to increase the efficiency of the roads. Also speed cameras and traffic monitoring technology are in use, images are sent to central road management departments to police and enforce driving laws.

Environmental concerns of road transportation

There have been major public attention given to climate change or the climate emergency in recent times. Citizen are asking the simple question does our traveling by car effect the environment and by how much. The pressure is now on that it has forced governments to adopt policies that now includes the environmental impact of road building, travel by car or transport of cargo by lorries. All this may change how the roads are financed by the adjustments of taxes on the road user. The main use of roads is by cars and the pollution created by a them is now a factor, which the public considers closely in their use of their most treasured form of transport their cars.


The travel by the automobile or car along the UK extensive road infrastructure is the most popular form of transport. If you own a car or have access to a car the main benefit is convenience. No tickets are required, no waiting, in general there is little to no costs in accessing the roads. Get to your destination may mean you drive yourself in your own car or hire a car. The other options involve taking a hired ride in a taxi and sharing in a pooled car share.

The costs in owning a car include the cost of ownership, insurance, MOT, fuel and road taxes. If you are going to a destination in town, parking charges are another cost to consider. The types of cars you can choose from are: the internal combustion engine fueled car by petrol or diesel; hybrid model, which is fuel and battery operations; and electric battery operated. There is a change away from fossil fuels use to other methods this means car produced and used today have a limited life span. Charging points for electric cars are increasing in their numbers. Targets are being set which changes the game in terms of the type of car ownership.


Buses on the road are the first form of mass transport. The buses has a history going back to the horse and coach. Once the internal combustion engine was designed and put into operation a way to transport on mass people so followed. In the UK there is an extensive bus transportation system that operates on the road network. All have timetables in which a passenger can use to manage their time during the day in getting from A to B.

Free transport is available in the UK for elder citizens, they have free bus passes and a dial a ride option. The disabled have more options to travel by buses however these use of a bus still need planning by these citizens. Buses are available in the major cities running seven days a week and heavy used route running 24 hours a day. Buses are local, intercity and international meaning a travel can access most parts of the UK from their home location. African and Caribbean communities have played a major roll in the smooth operation of the buses. A major shortage in staff was materialising after the second world war which made the government consider immigration of people from the Caribbean as a solution to transportation needs. Many a person from Jamaica or Barbados made a life in the UK whilst working on the public transport systems in particular the local buses.

Emergency services

Safety on the road is paramount in the UK as mass transportation must be keep moving. The roads are relied upon by all the nation this includes the emergency services to service the communities of the nation. Therefore advanced technologies such as satellites communications have been developed to guide these organisations as well as the general public. Internet maps like Google's are now integrated into vehicle dashboards as standard now. These can assist a drive manage a drive more efficiently.


There are many reasons today to travel on the road by bike among them include health, fitness and the environment concerns. Cycling club have grown in popularity as has the use of transport by bike with commuters. There has been a rapid growth of pathway for safe cycling in the UK. The pathways are extensive and safety concerns are the main reason behind this.

Haulage by lorry

Industry has relied on the smooth running of goods shipped from seller and buyers. Supplies and waste are managed by haulage companies. Cargo containers are moved by lorries in which timing is vital for foods, medicines and just in time manufacturing. The management of logistics is so important for business in that the UK would grind to a halt if the road transportation system failed. The only other alternatives is using the rail network or cargo planes.

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The Rail Network

The mass train transportation system for daily commuting, intercity and international journey is called the rail network. The rail network system is made up of some grand stations in the major cities, the tracks running up and down the country and trains.

Speed and efficiency are the main reason why you would use the rail network system. It is run by timetable; it is accessible for all able bodied person and more so for people with disabilities. Major project from the start include step free access and other services for citizen who have disabilities such as sight and hearing. Constant improvements are making there way round to all stations as the system must appeal to all the countries citizens. Safety is of course the number one concern for the managers of the rail network, and then to keep the system flowing. Millions of people, businesses and government rely on the service everyday, however there has been many changes to the system over the years. The railways were developed by private companies in the past then nationalised.

The railways are again in private hands but before that a rise of car ownership and the road haulage of goods from the early 1950s challenged rail’s supremacy. All this at that time meant major changes occurred. Routes were axed to save money as they were not profitable this has a major effect on many regions. Some regions were able to campaign and reverse government decisions others lost these services. Today investment is being put back into the rail network as the environmental value of mass transport by train compared to travel by the road network is being championed.

Major projects involving multi billion pound investment are engineering and technology marvels these include cross rail and HS2. The use of information technology for up today information on the health of the network which can be accessed by the traveler is a priority as lack of this means speed and efficiency advantages are reduced.

Speed is the maximum safe speed a train can travel on a line. The means the acceleration, deceleration and top speed must be known for that train line route. The objective is to peak at these phases between A to B stopping points. For this to happen the weight of the train must be known and distance between the points plus the resistance the train has to overcome whether through the track gradient or friction. These calculated figures are required for working out timetables.

*Efficiency is the energy per passenger distance travel. In light of this fact for trains efficiency is not at high as cycling or walking, but better than travel by car, aircraft or taking a taxi. This means than travel by train by the mass population is one of the most desired way to get from A to B based on cost.

Frequency of service is important in how the rail network is perceived. There is no point in having a fast train that everybody relies on with a limited number in service. All this means the rail system is a complex dynamic national wonder. However not all areas on the UK are as serviced as well as the capital London and the south east.

What a local rail station will mean for you

Enhanced house property prices, strong local communities, access to opportunities are a few of the benefits of have a good local rail station. If we look at the first point we house prices we know that there is a premium paid for a house within one mile of a station. This means there is a concentration of citizens with wealth within a local area. This point can not be underestimated. A person can commute to a source of employment within an hour ready to contribute to their employer day in day out. Time being the most important factor in this equation. The optimal walking distance from station (500 metres) in this equation is the only factor that a citizen can control.

Maximum wealth accumulation in property = Optimal walking distance from home to station (500 metres) measured in time + travel on train, includes number of transport changes, time of day and risk which is the number of times the train stops + end walk travel time to place of work

The Black Caribbean communities contribution

Black workers were employed on the railway throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In particular Caribbean communities have contributed to the UK's rail transport system as tunneler, furthermore mass population moved from A to B by rail have been serviced by dedicated Black Caribbean staff in the cities and towns of the UK. The transport system is a major source of employment in many different forms such as maintenance. British Railways were just one of a number of employers who actively recruited from the West Indies post World War Two, but like most employers in the United Kingdom the management were racist.

We quote straight from British Rail website Officially there was no colour bar operating within British Railways, but there are many accounts of applications and promotions being blocked because of an individual’s colour or background.


Increasingly important now are trams in the cities of the UK. They were once a major system of transport between. Horse drawn in it's beginning the street tramway became a mainstay by cable haul then electric. There are advantages to disadvantages to this form of transportation.

Advantages of trams

  • More efficient in terms of road usage than cars
  • Operating costs are lower than rubber tyres buses
  • Systems can be cheaper to install than subways
  • Trams can be tourist attractions

Disadvantages of trams

  • Hazardous for cyclists
  • Tracks tend to become slippery in wet conditions
  • Low-frequency noise

Underground or tube network

The logo of the London underground is a world known symbol as it is the sign of the oldest underground rail network system in the world. The original idea was to bring commuters from outside town into the heart of the city and across city. The national rail stations ended just outside the major areas of employment when first developed so to get around this the underground was built. Today the tube is extensive in the London region other cities too have underground systems called metros or subways they are Glasgow, Tyne & War and Liverpool. However the tube in London is the system that millions of people use every year to commute, travel for leisure or get across town to say the airports.

The rail network has an advantage over the train in that it is free to cut through London underground directly as appose to the Overground train system.

The network is in operation from early morning till late into the night for the major lines running north to south and east to west. The system is also open 24 hours over the weekend. It is easy to use and you are guide by an extensive map of trains line which are coloured.

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River And Sea Network

As like the road and rail systems it is used by passengers and haulage companies and has been but in the case for water transport for hundreds of years as a mass form. Ferry boats are used in place like Merseyside and the Isle of Wight in order to carry goods and people from port to port or across river.

Airports And Airplanes

The UK has a first class airport and airline transport system which is expansive, developed and efficient. Millions of journeys are made ever year. People travel safely and in speed both nationally and internationally.

Airport are a hub for retail

Major space in set aside on the grounds of airports for selling goods and service. When passing through to the waiting zones you are forced to snake around multiple shops selling famous brands at so called discount prices. The business of an airport is to sell as many high quality good as possible.


There are pressures on travelers who take the airplane for travel for business or leisure. This will define the business now and into the future as over long distances the airplane is the fastest way to travel and passengers are not going to give this up without an alternative.

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Future Development

In summary, government strategy on transportation are based upon the long term vision of the governing power at that time. Today this vision must consider safety, pollution and congestion in its decisions where to invest money. In addition where people live, work and play today should all be taken into account in planning. The objective is to keep turning and adjusting policies to make sure all citizens can travel as freely as possible now and into the future.

Infrastructure costs major amounts of money to get the spending right results in major benefits for citizens of a nation. It can not be underestimated that the health, happiness and success of a nation is linked to the vital free running roads, railways, rivers and airplane transport systems. These systems are essential and must be functioning at all times at peak efficiency to insure the smooth day to day living in the UK.

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Poor connectivity has far reaching consequences as it reduces access to employment opportunities see

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Efficiency is the (often measurable) ability to avoid wasting materials, energy, efforts, money, and time in doing something or in producing a desired result. In a more general sense, it is the ability to do things well, successfully, and without waste. In more mathematical or scientific terms, it is a measure of the extent to which input is well used for an intended task or function (output).

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If you wish to use this article for your City and Guilds informal discussions familiar topics please do so. Cut and paste.
For use as a presentation use the following:

  1. Title: Transport systems in the UK
  2. Content: Roads, railways, river and airplane transport systems
  3. The Road System
  4. Rail Network
  5. Airplanes
  6. River And Sea Network
  7. Future Development
  8. References
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