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Housing and roads blamed as workers go the extra mile; Steep rise in Midland commuters travelling up to three hours a day.

Byline: Graeme Brown Head of Business graeme.brown@trinitymirror.com

THE number of people commuting for more than three hours a day in the West Midlands has almost doubled since 2004.

New data shows an 87 per cent increase in people on the road for more than 180 minutes a day - which means 24,562 travelling for 15 hours a week - to get to work and back in the region.

The housing crisis and lack of spending on roads and railways has been blamed for the longer commutes.

The number of people spending more than two hours travelling to and from work every day in the West Midlands has jumped 67 per cent, to a total of 187,820.

Women have suffered most from the increase in long commutes, with a 131 per cent rise in those travelling three hours or more since 2004, said the TUC.

The union said soaring rents and high house prices, coupled with "creaking" infrastructure had led to people having to spend longer getting to work.

More low paid workers are also facing longer and costlier commutes just to get to work, said the TUC.

General secretary Frances O'Grady said: "It's bad enough most of us spend an hour a day getting to and from work, but spare a thought for those extreme commuters who travel for more than 10 or even 15 hours a week.

"Employers need to address the problem that many of their staff are spending an ever-increasing number of hours getting to and from work.

"More home and flexi-working could easily be introduced to allow people to cut their commutes and save money.

"This would not only be popular with workers, but fewer, better-spaced journeys would help to beat overcrowding on the roads and railways."

Phil Flaxton, chief executive of campaign group Work Wise, said: "Are we really prepared to move into winter with the same anticipated long and often disrupted commutes? "Or, are we going to change the way we work by commuting less with the aid of internet and mobile technologies.

"Employers should grasp this opportunity by changing the way employees work and commute and introduce more flexibility to cut out these restrictive influences on business performance as well as the wellbeing of their employees."

A Government spokesman said: "Government initiatives have helped more than 230,000 people to buy since 2010, and we are supporting record investment in transport infrastructure - more than PS127 billion between now and 2020.

"We have got Britain building again, with the latest figures showing that new homes are up by 9 per cent on this time last year as well as investing PS15 billion to increase the capacity and conditions of England's roads, and embarking on the most ambitious programme of rail upgrades since the Victorian era."

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 12, 2015
Words:484
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