Cutting journey times by just a minute on one of the busiest transport routes in the South East could add as much as £4.5 million a year to the national economy, a new study suggests.

The Economic Connectivity Review of the South East examines the cost of congestion in a region with 7.5 million residents and some of the most overcrowded road and rail routes.

It calculates that slicing just 60 seconds from journeys along the main transport corridors would bring dramatic savings from increased productivity.

A minute saved on journeys on the Brighton to London corridor (by rail on the Brighton mainline or the A23 and M23 road route) would add £4,514,367 to the value of the economy. For other major routes in the South East, the initial findings suggest, the equivalent saving would be:

  • Portsmouth direct line/A3 £4,055,647
  • Chatham mainline/A2-M2 £3,346,157
  • Great Western mainline/M4 £3,328,944
  • South Western mainline/M3 £3,017546

The Economic Connectivity Review has been commissioned by Transport for the South East, the sub-national transport body which is pressing the Government to oversee strategic transport in what is the country’s most productive region after London.

While this means it currently contributes £207 billion a year in GVA to the UK economy, Transport for the South East points out that intense pressure on a creaking transport network means this cannot be guaranteed in future without strategic investment. Economic stagnation would be especially harmful in a region which is the UK’s national gateway, including major airports, ports and international rail connections.

The report is produced by consultants Steer Davies Gleave. The corridor analysis represents their preliminary findings and they continue to refine the study which investigates the South East’s potential for growth and how this can be shaped with different investment priorities.

The report was published on Tuesday 8 May at an event, Connecting the South East, which brought together leaders from government, business and transport in the region.

Transport for the South East is operating as a shadow body while it formulates a transport strategy for the region. It intends to win Government approval to become a statutory body by the end of 2019 – following the example of Transport for the North.

Cllr Keith Glazier, Chairman of Transport for the South East, said: “There are clear benefits for the whole country in carefully planned investment in the South East’s transport network. This review shows that even modest improvements in capacity and journey time will lead to significant rises in productivity for business and in quality of life for the travelling public.

“Yet there is no single body to co-ordinate long-term transport strategy across the South East. Our partnership is ready to provide that.”