Time for action on transport plan

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The government needs to accelerate plans to improve transport infrastructure to tackle congestion, industry associations have warned in response to the latest discussion paper from the Department for Transport.

The document, “Towards a Sustainable Transport System”, sets out government priorities up to 2014. Transport secretary Ruth Kelly said: “We must increase our understanding of the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and road users, rail, bus, and aviation passengers and of international and domestic freight transporters. Our policies must improve every part of their travel experience, from leaving their front door to arriving safely at their final destination. If we are to achieve that, we must understand the full end to end journey.”

The Freight Transport Association argued that while the government’s proposals for dealing with road, rail and port congestion were in line with industry’s views, it was not moving fact enough to deal with the problem of congestion.

Chief executive Theo de Pencier said: “We agree with the government regarding the measures required to reduce congestion, improve competitiveness and achieve higher social and economic aspirations. However, we cannot wait until 2014 before substantive action is taken. The motorway hard shoulder running plans announced last week and the rail freight investment statement are examples of what can be achieved in the short term with relatively low level investment. FTA has identified other actions which could yield similar quick wins, including trialling higher capacity lorries, lifting delivery curfews and further gauge enhancement on key rail routes.”

And Road Haulage Association chief executive Roger King said:  “We remain concerned about the time gap indicated in the debate. Missing is the reference to the role transport has in establishing economic growth. We are extremely concerned that the UK’s creaking infrastructure will jeopardise the continuation of this growth in the years ahead.

“We call it the infrastructure gap. We fully support the aims and objectives set out by Government, but remain concerned that time is not on our side. When the conclusions are eventually reached, we will be urging for their speedy implementation.”

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