Written evidence from the Federation of
Small Businesses (HSR 181)|
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has taken
a neutral approach nationally to the development of high speed
rail. Small businesses recognise that the UK rail network needs
to be upgraded and brought in line with European standards to
ensure connectivity with the continent. Having said that the cost
of HS2 is astronomical in relation to the amount spent annually
on the road network.
FSB regions, affected by HS2, will hold differing
positions on the economic and environmental impact. Some members
hold the view that it will bring economic benefits through speedier
journey times to major cities; however, the flipside is that members
along the HS2 line will be adversely impacted during and after
Only 9% of FSB members consider establishing a high
speed rail network a priority and in general terms small businesses
are moderate users of the rail network, with only 4% considering
trains crucial to their business operation. A further 21% of small
businesses state that trains are quite important to them.
Only between 4% and 6% respectively considered train, air travel
and bus to be crucial to their business operation.
The main reason small businesses are not using rail
is the cost. Around half of small businesses say they have been,
or will be, negatively impacted by recent rail fare rises. Other
businesses have said that the locations they need to visit, often
out of town business parks, are not conveniently reached by rail,
so they have no choice but to use their car. The majority of small
businesses are dependent on their cars and vans for their business
Conversely, as many as 72% of small businesses say
their car is crucial to their business. Public transport in any
form is therefore not likely to replace the use of a car/van for
small businesses. The nature of the work carried out by those
businesses using a car/van is such that it is not possible to
replace the car journey with a public transport journey.
Nearly half of small businesses, or 43%, even said
that nothing would encourage them to use the public transport
network more. The state of repair of roads therefore is a crucial
element in creating an environment in which small businesses are
able to grow and prosper.
Small businesses typically operate their car/van
within a 40 mile radius of their base and are more concerned about
petrol prices, the state of the road network, congestion on local
roads and the rising cost of insurance mainly as a result of damage
to their vehicle caused by potholes in roads. Sixty per cent of
FSB members say the state of roads impacts negatively on their
FSB calls on the Government to undertake a full assessment of
transport priorities before signing off on the HS2 project.
businesses are moderate users of the rail network and the main
reason for not using rail is cost.
businesses rely on the road network and 6 in 10 have no choice
but to use a car/van for business purposes.
421 All stats in this response are taken from the FSB
Small Business Survey Panel February survey on Infrastructure.
The survey had 1739 responses. Back