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Government accused of having no clear vision for the future of the transport sector

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Just a third (32%) of senior leaders in the transport sector feel that the UK Government has a clear vision for the future of the nation’s transport, according to new research released today by transformation consultancy Moorhouse. The report, Navigating Uncertainty, found that just 18% believe this vision is very or extremely clear.

Nine out of ten (88%) indicate that Government policy significantly affects their strategy and investment decisions, and 85% believe that this lack of clarity has negatively affected their organisations.

The survey spoke to over 130 board members and their direct reports from a cross-section of transport and infrastructure organisations, overseeing a total spend on change and transformation projects worth £2.1bn.

Dissatisfaction is particularly high in the Rail and Aviation industries, most likely due to recent debates around High Speed 2 and air capacity in the South East. Only a third of respondents in the survey (33%) believe the transport sector is fairly or very effective at working with Government to help influence future transport policy. However, not a single respondent in the Aviation sector felt positively about their engagement with Government.

Only around one in five (22%) of respondents believed their Board is fully confident that the initiatives they have invested in will deliver the benefits they intend. Half (48%) of respondents feel their organisation lacks the ability to select the right mix of initiatives to deliver its strategy, and only one in five (22%) were making the decision to invest based on fully quantified benefits.

Organisations that feel they have stronger relationships with Government find they have greater clarity and understanding of the future direction for the UK transport sector. Consequently, these organisations felt better able to select where to invest money and resources, and more confident the benefits of these would be delivered.

Correspondingly, the data shows c£1.65bn across the surveyed projects was being invested in change programmes that lacked a comprehensive business case, and c£1.5bn without a proper evaluation on their return on investment. Those organisations that are less confident at selecting and prioritising which programmes and initiatives to invest in were spending on average 29% more on their change agenda, suggesting further mis-allocated investment.

Jason Byrne, principal and transport sector lead at Moorhouse, commented: “The UK’s transport sector is mired in uncertainty, as this data clearly shows. To remain competitive on a global scale, attract investment and create jobs, the UK needs a clear vision for the country’s transport network. Without clarity, the industry cannot make long-term strategic decisions, or understand where best to invest its resource. This lack of clear direction is grinding UK transport and infrastructure to a halt, and transport organisations risk wasting money by investing in the wrong areas or failing to adequately understand the benefits expected from these initiatives.”

Byrne continued: “To better mitigate this situation, transport organisations need to take a different approach to their major change initiative investments. They must adopt a more disciplined and benefits-led approach, build their internal capability for handling change and collaborate more closely with Government, regulators and the wider industry. Organisations working in the transport sector need to be more agile to better respond to Government infrastructure decisions when they are, in due course, made.”

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