Rail overtakes housing as top infrastructure priority

Results from Ipsos Mori's second Global Infrastructure Index show British people now want better railways more than any other infrastructure priority. Housing comes second and flood defences third in the survey of Britons' infrastructure wishlist. This is the same top three as the first Index found last year, but rail has jumped from third to top spot, Ipsos Mori says.

The results from across 28 countries also show that rail infrastructure is given much higher priority among the British public compared to other G8 countries. Rail use is higher in Britain, but the quality and value-for-money of its railways is rated lower than others in the G8, according to the Index poll. 

Ipsos MORI found 46% of Britons choosing rail from a list as priorities for investment, ahead of new housing supply (43%) and flood defences (38%). In Britain, only 38% of people rate the quality of rail travel as very or fairly good, which compares to 51% in France and 60% in Japan, but ahead of Italy's 29%.

Ipsos Mori's research director for infrastructure, Ben Marshall, said: “Our second Global Infrastructure Index finds the British still think investment in infrastructure is vital to future economic growth and there remains a sense that not enough is being done to meet needs.

“But it also shows an uptick in the salience of rail infrastructure. This is likely to reflect British reliance on rail – we’re more dependent on rail to get around than many other countries – and also the inferior rating of the quality of our tracks and stations compared to elsewhere, including Germany, the US, France and Japan."

Ratings of rail are higher in London where 45% are positive about the current quality of tracks and stations but, despite this, it is identified as a priority for investment by a higher proportion in the capital than elsewhere. As in 2016, Londoners are especially critical of the quality of housing supply, Ipsos Mori says.

The survey also finds that a lack of fair distribution of infrastructure investment is felt more strongly across regions of Britain than in most other countries – 37% think investment is unfair compared to 23% who take the opposite view with 39% unsure either way. Those living in the North of England, the South West and Wales have a particularly strong sense of unfairness, with London the only part of Britain more positive than negative.