Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 520 - 539)



  520. And what sort of proportion would that be in terms of the 25 per cent?
  (Mr Matthews) The 25 per cent equates over the ten-year period to something like £2.6 billion.

  521. Remind of me of the Birmingham figure.
  (Mr Matthews) £400 to £500 million is our best estimate.

  522. So we are talking about a quarter of the total coming from one scheme?
  (Mr Matthews) Which is a very large scheme.

  523. A very large scheme. How do you intend over the period of ten years (because there will be targets in that ten years) to fund the new major schemes that will be initiated during the ten-year period when your target of 25 per cent in the private sector is unlikely to be achieved until 2010?
  (Mr Matthews) I think we are clear that, firstly, the 25 per cent is not a fixed target.

  524. That is what you described it as.
  (Mr Matthews) It is what we are working towards. We will look at each of the schemes as they come forward for ministerial decision as to whether they fit criteria for private finance.

  525. Now that we know it is only a tentative target, it is an aspiration, supposing it does not develop, supposing you do not get this, where will the money come from, where will that £2.5 billion come from?
  (Mr Matthews) Our assumption is, and our experience at the moment is that we will have no difficulty securing that level of private investment in major roads. I think the issue is which schemes will most fit private investment rather than whether that private investment will be available.

  526. Have you identified any major schemes that may fit that criteria? Have you done that as yet?
  (Mr Matthews) Yes, we have two other major sets of schemes which we have already identified and made public, one in Yorkshire on the A1, and a couple of schemes in Kent. Neither of those is as substantial as the Birmingham scheme. Although the schemes are at a fairly early stage in some of the Multi-Modal Studies, our initial look at some of the likely schemes is that we will have a reasonable flow of schemes that will, we think, be attractive to private investment.

Mr O'Brien

  527. On the same page, Page 21 of your document, you do say: "Where road improvements are taken forward, we will ensure that each is carefully assessed using the New Approach to Appraisal." You are going to say before any investment decision is taken that this will apply. If all the schemes, as you have answered to Mr Stevenson, are in the pipeline, how will that fit in with the programme? Before any investment decision is taken you will apply the new approach to appraisal. If they are all the pipeline, they are all being assessed and all being equated, how will this apply under the schemes?
  (Mr York) The new approach will be applied to potential schemes before Ministers decide whether to add them to the new road programme.

  Mr O'Brien: It does not say that in this document. It just says "Where road improvements are taken forward, we will ensure that each is carefully assessed using the New Approach to Appraisal". I read that as any scheme that you are involved in. My question is if we have got 51 schemes or a number of schemes already committed, how will this apply under the programme you outlined to us?


  528. What Mr O'Brien is politely saying to you is it looks like you have made one announcement and then you have already excluded those things that you have worked on.
  (Mr York) The existing major schemes in our programme have been subjected to the new appraisal system.

Mr O'Brien

  529. Where can I find the new appraisal in this document to explain it to me?
  (Mr York) It probably is not in that particular document.

  Mr O'Brien: When we talk about the "New Approach to Appraisal", how do we get that information?


  530. He will give us a note.
  (Mr York) I will give you a note.

  531. If you do get this five per cent reduction on inter-urban roads, what is that going to do in terms of journey time?
  (Mr Matthews) Over the network as a whole—and that is how the five per cent is measured—it will be a very small reduction.

  532. How small is "very small"?
  (Mr Matthews) I am not sure precisely in minutes what it is but it is in minutes rather than more than that.

  533. But?
  (Mr Matthews) But where we are investing in schemes, both small and large, which are targeted at congestion, then individual road users will see major benefits.

  534. No, now come on Mr Matthews, I am not very bright but why should they see major advances if you have just told me that the five per cent overall is only going to be in minutes? We do not even know how many minutes.
  (Mr Matthews) Because the congestion target and the congestion measure against which that will be based covers the whole of the network at all and different times of the day.

  535. So overall they may only expect to get five per cent which will translate into one or two minutes, but somewhere they will get an enormous benefit?
  (Mr Matthews) On particular areas of congestion then there will be very significant benefits.

Andrew Bennett

  536. And it will get worse for some places for your average to come out?
  (Mr Matthews) No, because the congestion hot spots, whether they are around junctions or on particularly congested parts of the motorway, are only at certain times of the day and are fairly restricted in their length and that is what we will be targeting at. So there will be disproportionate benefit, if you like, at certain parts of the network and that is part of the appraisal of the schemes we undertake, that they will deliver significant improvements in flows through particular parts of the network.


  537. You do not think your "very small" might be defined as about half of a second per kilometre, do you?
  (Mr Matthews) I do not know.

  538. When would you be likely to find out?
  (Mr Matthews) I can give you a note on the assumptions that were made in the Department's model.

  ChairmanThat would be extremely helpful. I would like to know about your assumptions. Miss McIntosh

Miss McIntosh

  539. The Government's detrunking programme is due to start in 2003. What will the implications be for the Ten Year Plan insofar as trunk roads being taken out of the Government's programme and placed into local authorities' programmes? Will the budget be neutral as far as the Ten Year Plan is concerned and what resources will be handed over to the local authorities which are responsible from 2003 for these new roads?
  (Mr Matthews) The detrunking programme has already started. There is a financial negotiation and agreement reached with each of the prospective local authorities before the specific detrunking is approved and that does involve transfer of the resource for the on-going maintenance of the particular part of network. There are also on a number of parts of the non-core network major schemes that were previously agreed which we have been asked to undertake before the road is then handed on.

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