Fleet News

Transport plan gets savaging from MPs

THE Government's transport strategy, that promised a new future for road and rail users, has been savaged in a damning report that throws doubt on whether the £180 billion 10-year plan will ever work.

In 1999, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott launched the plan which he said would 'give Britain a transport system to rival the best in Europe'.

At the time, he outlined three stages to the 10-year programme: establish the framework - the ideas, the structures and the laws which, he said, was already under way with the publication of the integrated transport white paper and the Transport Bill.

The second stage was to put the framework into practice and begin to deliver 'so that cars, buses, trains and light rail work together' and the final stage was to produce a step change in investment, capacity and quality.

But in a scathing attack on Government policy the Labour-dominated Transport Select Committee has this week branded the plans vague, confused, ill-balanced and poor value for money.

The report claims that far from easing congestion, current policies are encouraging more car journeys and causing worse traffic jams.

It also slams attempts to bring in Lord Birt, former BBC director-general, to advise on transport policy, saying: 'Blue skies thinking from casual enthusiasts such as Lord Birt is no substitute for a considered analysis of the impacts of future policies that the Government has hitherto been reluctant to consider.'

The committee says that although years have passed since the plan was announced, there is no real evidence of any improvement, while there are no specific timetables for initiatives to be introduced. In many areas the 10-year plan is likely to achieve exactly the opposite of what the Government intends, the 74-page report claims.

Prior to his resignation on Tuesday, Stephen Byers, Secretary of State at the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions, rejected the committee's criticism.

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