• Nick Kemp

Task 2 Essay: Rail vs Road

Question: Governments should spend money on railways rather than roads. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Band 8+ Sample Answer:

(Intro) It is argued that the government should invest money in rail systems at the expense of roads. It may not come as a surprise that I do not fully agree with this position as I feel both modes have their merits. Although railways are very suitable for making cities cleaner and greener, new roads are an effective and practical way to connect remote areas of a country.

(Body 1) To begin with it has been widely demonstrated that one clear opportunity of investing in railways is cleaner cities. Traffic congestion and air pollution are serious problems that face many large urban areas, caused by an over-dependence on private vehicles such as cars and motorbikes. Therefore many governments are switching their focus to cleaner forms of public transport including rail. A good example is in Ho Chi Minh City, which is in the process of building a city-wide metro system which hopes to alleviate current traffic-related and pollution problems.

(Body 2) Despite these arguments, it would be wrong to argue completely against investment in roads. There are countless examples where expansion of the road and highway network has the ability to connect remote areas. In large rural or mountainous areas, investing in railways infrastructure such as tracks and stations can be prohibitively expensive and technically challenging. In contrast highways require less financial and technical investment, and construction is more efficient and cost-effective than a railway. A good example is the new Sapa to Hanoi highway in northern Vietnam. This was built without relying on foreign investment or technical expertise and was finished on time.

(Conclusion) In conclusion I can’t fully support the idea that governments should prioritise railways over roads. Despite urban light railway being a great solution for polluted and congested cities such as Saigon, it is also true that highways are ideal for connecting rural communities. Therefore governments need to evaluate on a case by case basis which solution is most appropriate given the needs of the local population. (325 words).

Words: Nick Kemp, former IELTS examiner.

Images: Shutterbug75 / Pixabay.