Transport Watch UK Focusing on UK's Traffic & Traffic Systems

Facts Sheet 8: Rail versus road, Track maintenance costs

Updated October 2005

  1. Tables 6.2 and 4.1 of Transport statistics Great Britain 2004 provides 41 billion passenger-km and 19 billion tonne-km via national rail. Dividing the passengers by 20 yields 2.05bn coach-km. Dividing the freight by 15 yields 1.27 lorry-km. Adding the two yields 3.32bn (bus plus lorry)-km. Maintenance and renewals for the system may be running at between £2 and £3 billion annually for the decade (Table 8.2 of Network Management Statement 2001). On that basis the cost per equivalent bus/lorry vehicle-km has the range (60-90) pence. (If the equivalent bus flows are eliminated from the sum on the basis that it would be lorries that do the damage then the cost has the range (157-236) pence per equivalent lorry-km). Alternatively divide the £(2-3) billion by the 32,000 km of track length and get £62,000- £94,000 per track-km per year. Alternatively again, if we set one tonne as equivalent to one passenger then the infrastructure maintenance cost per (passenger + tonne)-km has the range 3.3 pence to 5 pence.

  2. For roads we here consider the Motorway and Trunk road Network only. All maintenance costs are assigned to the heavier class of lorries, namely 4 axle rigids, and all artics, since it is those classes of vehicle that do most of the structural damage. Further maintenance costs have been set to the current account cost plus half the capital expenditure on the basis of discussions with the DfT. On that basis the emboldened data in table following show:

     

    (a) That the cost per lorry-km was 12 pence (compared with the (60-90) pence by rail).
    (b) The annual cost per lane km has the range £25,000-£33,000 (compared with £62,000-94,000 per track-km for rail).
    (c)

    The cost per (person + tonne)-km is 0.5 pence, one-sixth to one-tenth the value for rail.

     

    The comparison is biased in favour of rail since (a) buses on trunk roads and motorways amount to one tenth of the heavy lorry flow but are ignored when calculating the factors (b) substantial elements of road maintenance such as signs, lighting, verges, hard shoulders, winter maintenance, and some wear and tear should be attributed to vehicles other than to lorries alone.

Table - Lengths, costs and unit costs - Motorways and Trunk Roads in GB

 

Year

1999/00

2000/01

2001/02

2002/03

2003/4

Total

Lengths-km TSGB 2004 Table 7.8

M'way, M

3,449

3,468

3,476

3,476

3,476

17,345

Trunk, T, excluding M

11,698

11,701

11,369

10,640

93,40

54,748

Lane Lengths km

(a) M = 6 T = 2

44,090

44,210

43,594

42,136

39,536

213,566

(b) M = 7 T = 2

59,237

59,379

58,439

56,252

52,352

285,659

Expenditure outturn £millions TSGB 2004 Table 1.15

Capital

1,079

1,021

1,152

1,395

1,038

5,685

Current

574

760

776

819

982

3,911

GDP deflator TSGB 2004 Table 1.2

1.102

1.087

1.063

1.03

1

 

Expenditure £millions 2003 prices

Capital, (Cap)

1,189

1,110

1,225

1,437

1,038

5,998

Current, (Cur)

633

826

825

844

982

4,109

Total

1,822

1,936

2,049

2,280

2,020

10,107

½(Cap)+ (Cur) (xx)

1,227

1,381

1,437

1,562

1,501

7,108

veh-km billion: 4 Axle rigids and artics

11.5

12.1

12.7

12.14

11.55

59.99

Cost (xx) per Lane-km (a) £

27,831

31,238

32,967

37,070

37,965

33,284

Cost (xx) per lane-km (b) £

20,715

23,258

24,593

27,768

2,8671

24,884

Cost (xx) per Veh-km pence

11

11

11

13

13

12

System- wide passenger-km Billion 696 695 710 734 736  
System-Wide Tonne-km Billion 157 158 157 157 159  
(passenger + Tonne)-km Billion 853 853 867 891 895  
% total traffic on Motorways and Trunk roads 36 35.6 34.6 33.7 32.5  
(passenger + Tonne)-km on M and T 307 304 300 300 291 1502
Pence per (passenger + Tonne)-km 0.400 0.455 0.479 0.520 0.516 0.473



© Transport Watch UK 2011 | Webdesign by 1PCS