Fleet News

Congestion-busting billions to boost business efficiency

DEPUTY Prime Minister John Prescott has published the Government's congestion-busting, modernising £180 billion investment plan to deliver a top class transport system in the UK. The ten-year investment package to modernise the UK's transport system is aimed chiefly at cutting road traffic congestion - making road journeys quicker and safer and providing a big efficiency boost for British business.

By investing £180 billion of public and private cash over the next decade - split equally between roads and railways - plus a further £60 billion for local transport including London, where £3.2 billion is to be invested in the next three years to reduce traffic congestion and overcrowding on the Underground.The Government aims to:

    Reduce road congestion

    Introduce modern trains (6,000 new carriages and trains) with improved services and cheaper fares

    Increase the number of rail passengers by 50% and rail freight by 80%

    Build 100 new bypasses

    Widen 360 miles of trunk roads and motorways

    Introduce major improvements in rural transport

    Improve bus services with a 10% rise in passenger use

    Launch 25 new light rail projects in major cities

    Improve road and rail safety

    Reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality

In launching the strategy on Thursday, John Prescott claimed that 'Transport 2010 - The Ten Year Plan' was 'designed to tackle the legacy of under-investment, fragmentation and short termism which had come from 30 years of neglect'. He said: 'This is a Government working with business to deliver the long-term investment needed to rebuild our infrastructure, cut congestion, improve public transport and give people choice. Better transport is a key element of a prosperous economy and is essential to help improve the competitiveness of British business.'

A further analysis of where the £180 billion will be spent reveals:

    £60 billion will be spent on improving the national rail network with new track, signalling, stations and rolling stock

    £21 billion will be spent on national roads to tackle congestion hotspots and safety through widening schemes, bypasses and junction improvements

    £59 billion on improving local transport, including light rail projects, guided bus systems, park and ride, priority routes and funding to improve rural transport along with increased priority for cycling and walking

    £23 billion for transport in London

Of the £180 billion, Prescott calculates £132 billion will come from the public purse with the remainder from private funding, particularly in relation to rail and London Underground as well as some road development.

A near doubling of the transport budget will provide the launchpad for the ten-year strategy aimed at delivering a transport system which will transform Britain and boost businesses. The transport budget, at £4,895 million for the current financial year, will rise to £6,019 million in 2001/02, £7,369 million in 2002/03 and £9,120 million in 2003/04, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown told the House of Commons as he announced the Government's three-year spending plans.

Within the Spending Review 2000 settlement, transport capital investment rises from £2,332 million for 2000-01 to £6,176 million for 2003-04.

For four pages of in-depth analysis, see this week's edition of Fleet News.

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