Milton Keynes: The Future of UK Transport Innovation

July 19, 2018

Location and Growth

Fifty years ago, Milton Keynes was a relatively small town, with a population of 67,000 people. Fast forward to 2018 and the population has quadrupled to over 260,000. Over the next three decades, this is likely to double to 500,000. As well as being one of the UK's fastest growing cities, Milton Keynes is perfectly placed in the centre of the UK and superbly connected. Just 32 minutes by train to London and 51 minutes to Birmingham, Milton Keynes has become the ideal place for new and established business to base themselves. Over the last six years the business sector in Milton Keynes has grown by 34% with a large portion being digital, ICT and tech companies. There are now over 3,700 ICT companies based in Milton Keynes, from start-ups to large corporations. In addition, some of the UK's biggest brands are based in Milton Keynes, from Argos to Network Rail to Deloitte.

Dedication to Transport Innovation

Milton Keynes' dedication to innovation in transport is clear through its collaboration and partnerships. It is part of England's Economic Heartland (EEH), a partnership of local councils and enterprises who represent the key Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge growth corridor and are passionate about improving transportation links. In recent history, the poor mobility solutions between these towns has held back potential for economic growth. Using Immense Simulations' ground-breaking city scale simulation software, EEH will carry out risk-free scenario testing - asking their own 'what if?' questions to understand the effects of new developments within the growth corridor and develop strategies to deliver the most effective solutions possible. By improving the road networks and planning for the changes in transport and mobility systems, EEH helps maximise growth potential and improve connectivity between the locations.

A Unique Road Network

When Milton Keynes was originally designed in 1967, it was a new town built to provide 'overspill' housing for London. The plans for Milton Keynes showed a real departure from traditional English towns. It was designed for city scale growth and to become a central hub for international business, whilst the US-style road network provided the blueprint for a future city to grow in to. Planning the town as a grid system meant that roads were well thought out - with large roads running alongside neighbourhoods rather than through, allowing large volumes of traffic to pass through the town without entering housing communities.

As a result of this unique town road network structure, Milton Keynes has found itself as the key test bed for many UK-based driverless car companies. The Transport Systems Catapult has overseen the UK Autodrive project, which will demonstrate the commercial operation of electrified self-driving pods in Milton Keynes over the next few months. The start-up delivery company Starship has also been using Milton Keynes as a pilot town to test its robot delivery service.

From its inception, Milton Keynes has been a forward-thinking and ambitious town. It has the investment, location and determination to thrive as a key UK city for innovation for many years to come.