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

Memorandum from Commission for Integrated Transport (TYP 56)


  It is important to distinguish between the current state of the transport networks and the actions being taken by DTLR to improve the situation. CfIT's European Best Practice report highlighted under-investment in our transport networks. For generations we have lagged behind our European partners. The Government's Integrated Transport White Paper, the 10 Year Transport Plan and the commitment to investing £180 billion over the next 10 years are welcome and positive steps. The public investment promised represents a step change over the previous decade, spending some 50 per cent more and, when delivered, the planned improvements will start to pull Britain up the league table. Significantly increased private sector investment is also anticipated. But decades of drift and under-investment will not be turned around quickly, a continuing high priority will need to be given to transport spending.

  CfIT is fully supportive of the Government's integrated transport agenda. The commitment to increased expenditure is essential in order that we start to turn the ship round. And progress is starting to come through in several areas. There has been a step change in Local Transport Plan funding which should bring forward a raft of local improvements including measures to assist bus users as well as facilities for cyclists and pedestrians. There is also a much needed boost to investment in local road maintenance. The programme of light rail investment is moving ahead and could become a major success story for this country.


1.  What assumptions should be modified or challenged?

    (i)  finance: the current uncertainties in the rail industry are not conducive to attracting private sector investment; it is assumed in the plan that over the 10 year period some £34 billion will be attracted and, most importantly, that £11.2 billion of that will be in the first three years of the Plan. There are three main routes for private sector funding:

        —  investment by the successor to Railtrack;

        —  ROSCO investment; and

        —  TOC/FOC investment.

  Though unquantified, the Commision's concerns arise from two factors: uncertainty over the success or to Railtrack. This will, inevitably, have an impact on the timing, if not on the quantum, of investment. Also, the slow progress to date of the re-franchising process, and the focus on two year extensions, will have delayed the TOCs raising investment for infrastructure improvements (though the same concern does not apply to rolling stock capacity enhancement).

  Early investment is essential to ensure that schemes come to fruition within the lifetime of the Plan.

    (ii)  rail infrastructure provision: the achievement of the Plan assumes not only that finance is forthcoming, but that there is a mechanism to deliver the infrastructure. The target of 50 per cent growth in rail patronage over the Plan period may appear to fit well with the 25 per cent growth in the five-year period leading up to Hatfield. However, some of the future growth required to ensure that rail plays its full part in delivering the wider integrated transport agenda will require additional capacity. Given evidence of escalating costs of infrastructure improvements, compounded by the current level of uncertainty in the industry, I have concern over the delivery of these capacity improvements on the timescale required.

    (iii)  economic growth: whilst economic growth is cyclical, and a short term downturn is not necessarily a cause for concern, low growth at the start of a 10 Year Plan period will have a negative impact on patronage forecasts that may inhibit (private sector) investment decisions which would come on stream later in the period;

    (iv)  delivery of recommendations from multi-modal studies: the results of these studies are subject to the normal planning processes, and whilst that process may potentially be speeded up by the recent Green Paper, the lead times for delivery of major projects suggest that few would be delivered and operational within the plan period. Smaller scale projects, however, can be delivered more quickly, particularly through the LTP process. In relation to rail investment the mechanism for tying recommended rail improvements into the SRA priorities is not clear, further increasing uncertainty.

    (v)  local charging schemes: see point two below.

    (vi)  local public transport schemes: I welcome the increased funding going into local public transport as a result of the 10 Year Plan. Small scale and local measures such as bus priority measures, pedestrianisation, improved cycle facilities and demand management can all contribute to the success of public transport schemes in attracting people from their cars. Particularly important are well-designed bus priority schemes which can bring forth large benefits in terms of congestion relief and emissions reduction. Local Authorities should be encouraged to bring forward such schemes, where ever possible as part of a Quality Partnership with local operators (however, see the comment under Targets).

  Overall: We do not anticipate that events external to the transport sector (such as foot-and-mouth, fuel protests or the flooding) are likely to have a significant effect on the achievement of the 10 Year Plan. A prolonged economic downturn could impact both on demand for transport and on available funding. Significant fluctuations in fuel price, though not anticipated, would also have impacts on the demand for transport. Government should maintain transport spending as a high priority, irrespective of the economic cycle. We cannot return to the stop/go policies of previous times.

  We are concerned that the assumptions related to the rail industry, both finance and delivery mechanisms and the number of charging schemes that will be implemented may be over optimistic. A shortfall on these assumptions would undoubtedly hamper delivery of the 10 Year Plan objectives in terms of reduced congestion and pollution, if not compensated by other measures.

2.  In particular, will the expected number of congestion charging and workplace parking levy schemes be implemented and when?

    (i)  congestion charging schemes in the planning process: within England, whilst there has been considerable interest expressed in Local Transport Plans, we believe that only the following schemes are being actively progressed (that is with a committed policy) at this time:

    —  London—cental area scheme;

    —  Bristol—central area scheme;

    —  Durham—small area scheme; and

    —  Derwent Valley (Derbyshire)—single road scheme.

    (ii)  congestion charging schemes under consideration, as trials or pilot studies (but not committed policy) include:

    —  Leeds;

    —  Leicester;

    —  Birmingham; and

    —  Manchester.

    (iii)  workplace parking levy: Nottingham City Council is the authority which is furthest advanced, and with a small number of large employers is the most likely to be able to implement such a scheme. However, there appears to be growing concern locally over its impact and appropriateness. Other authorities have expressed an interest but few are actively pursuing the implementation of a scheme, with many waiting to see what happens elsewhere.

  There is a general concern that many employers will not pass on the cost to employees, but may over time reduce the number of spaces provided. As a result the effect on traffic will be relatively small in the first instance, and additional costs will be passed onto consumers, with little tangible benefit. In addition, there is a substantial administrative burden associated with the levy.

  Overall:  On congestion charging there is an attitude of "waiting for London", since local politicians do not wish to push forward a measure which they perceive to politically very difficult (see however CfIT's annual survey, which showed 52 per cent support when the funds were pledged to public transport) and for which success is not yet guaranteed in London. Even if the Mayor is successful, I do not anticipate that anything like twenty other charging and parking levy schemes would be in place by the end of the plan period. With a fair wind Bristol and maybe Leeds could have introduced charging (along with small scale schemes such as those in Durham and Derwent Valley). On work place parking Nottingham might have in place a scheme, but I see little prospect at the moment of other schemes being introduced.

3.  How important are the assumptions to the outcome of the plan? What remedial action is necessary if assumptions or targets need to be changed?

    (i)  private sector finance: is clearly vital to the success of the rail targets and to taking some of the pressure for growth off the strategic road system. Much depends on the new structure for the rail industry, and on the SRA Strategic Plan published recently.

    (ii)  local charging schemes: I believe that the number of schemes assumed in the plan would contribute significantly (maybe up to 20 per cent to 25 per cent depending on the assumptions made) to the achievement of the congestion reduction to be delivered by the 10 YP. The number of authorities currently progressing such schemes is very low. Remedial action by Government should include reinforcing the message that funds raised locally will be in addition to those granted through the Local Transport Plan process. More positive and overt support from Ministers for the benefits of charging schemes is also necessary. Potentially of greater importance, both to reduce congestion directly and also to optimise the value for money of major capital transport investment in urban areas, would be the linking of approval for such investment to a thorough and rigorous assessment of the role of charging in complementing and funding infrastructure provision.

    (iii)  Local public transport schemes: whilst much is happening on LRT, and this is welcomed, the bus is and will remain, the major carrier of public transport journeys in the country. Authorities (with a few notable exceptions) have been slow to progress quality partnerships, and to make the progress in arresting (and turning round) the decline in passenger numbers that has been achieved in certain places (eg Oxford and certain corridors in Leeds).

    (iv)  timing and implementation of recommendations from multi-modal studies and Regional Transport Strategies: The MMS process is supported by CfIT as a key element of an integrated method of planning (transport and land use) and implementation. However, the plan targets are based on assumptions about infrastructure improvements (road and public transport) following on from the multi-modal studies. Whilst it is anticipated that the Planning Green Paper will be the source of some improvement in timing, the changes will not become legislation for some years. The long lead times historically required to deliver major improvements could prove a barrier to delivery of the necessary improvements on the ground within the Plan horizon. It is clear that continued action is required by the Highways Agency (already paralleling the work of the MMSs) to ensure delivery within timescale. Further, the current uncertainty over how approved rail improvements (flowing from MMS) will be fitted into the SRA priorities needed to be resolved as a matter of urgency.

  Overall:  the assumed levels of investment and delivery of schemes is essential to the achievement of the Plan. Though it is too soon to judge, continuing effort will be necessary to streamline delivery and to resolve administrative issues if the projected benefits are to be realised by 2010.

4.  Are the skills and capacity available to deliver the improvements suggested?

  This is an area where there is much work ongoing at present to quantify the scale of the shortfall, and to identify remedial action.

    (i)  planning skills: almost certainly not—local authorities and consultants are competing in a small pool, and bringing in considerable overseas assistance, in an endeavour to satisfy demand.

    (ii)  design and implementation skills: there is a shortage of project leaders and engineers to take forward schemes in local authorities.

    (iii)  maintenance skills: this is a particular problem in the rail industry (as evidenced in the aftermath of Hatfield), and is also becoming a problem for local authority highways, as considerable additional finance has been directed towards this area in recent years, after many years of inadequate funding.

    (iv)  drivers: there is currently a shortfall in the number of rail drivers and bus drivers. As an example, a number of scheduled services of Arriva trains in the north east have been cancelled and replaced by bus services, as a result of a shortage of train drivers.

How will the current situation in the railway industry affect the need for a provision of private and public sector finance?

    (i)  Stephen Byers has put in place the essential building blocks for the future: lancing the Railtrack boil, a new direction and focus for the SRA and rationalisation of the franchise map.

  The appointment of Richard Bowker as Chairman of the SRA is a positive and welcome move. The railways were badly in need of strong leadership and strategic direction. A unifying voice to rebuild confidence in the railways and behind which the industry and, as crucially, the city could rally. I believe Richard will provide that.

  It is necessary, however, to go further and simplify the current regulatory regime—to provide clarity and to streamline decision-making. In doing so it will be necessary to ensure that independent financial regulation is maintained.

  The SRA strategic plan has increased certainty and represents a good basis to rebuild the confidence necessary to attract private investment. Though getting the "successor to Railtrack" right is paramount, the current uncertainty needs to be resolved as soon as possible to continue and reinforce confidence building. If there is a shortfall in private sector contribution, the Government should look to find other ways to make up any deficit.

2.  Is the balance and phasing of investment across funding areas correct?

    (i)  balance: I was pleased to see the balance in the 10 YP reflect a shift in investment (as a percentage of the total) from road to rail. It is also pleasing to see the increased focus on maintenance (particularly in the local road network).

    (ii)  phasing: we believe the phasing is reasonable, providing that it can be achieved. If uncertainty delays rail investment, while road investment goes to plan, there is the danger that this could reinforce our car dependence. As stated above, we are concerned that many major schemes will only be ready for implementation towards the end of the 10 YP period.

3.  Are more flexible financing arrangements required to deliver major local schemes?

    (i)  the introduction of the Single Capital Pot carries the risk that transport will lose out to local priorities in other sectors. The evidence from Scotland, where the single capital pot was introduced in 1994 is that between that year and 1998 capital spend on transport by Scottish LAs fell by 40 per cent.

    (ii)  many of the capital schemes introduced will generate an obligation for future revenue support. There is currently no process for ring-fencing revenue support, and this will continue to be a problem.

4.  How do emerging multi-modal studies affect the 10 Year Plan

    (i)  timeliness: as discussed under assumptions, the results of these studies are subject to the normal planning processes, and whilst that process may potentially be speeded up by the recent Green Paper, it seems unlikely that many of the major infrastructure schemes covered by the studies (either road or rail) will open much before the end of the 10 YP period.

    (ii)  funding: the evidence (eg from the West Midlands study) is of a major funding requirement, but since the implementation timescale will inevitably extend beyond the period of the 10 Year Plan, this may not be a problem.

5.  Should the plan represent a better balance between large and small schemes, and between infrastructure, management and operations?

    (i)  large and small schemes: Appraisal processes, historically, have tended to favour investment in major projects and in road building. The New Approach to Appraisal takes account of a wide range of objectives (economic, social and environmental), and it is a tool that can lead to a more balanced view of investment priorities. However, as yet the benefits of small scale and local improvements are not sufficiently captured. Techniques need to be developed to ensure that these can be appraised satisfactorily. The balance between investment in major projects and small-scale measures could then be reassessed.

    (ii)  infrastructure, management and operations: we have no reason to believe that the balance is not correct (but see the point above on the need for revenue support), provided that it is treated differently in different circumstances, taking account of local conditions. However, investment in infrastructure should be viewed more widely to include making best use of existing capacity through investment in active management systems, introduction of HOV lanes and road user charging.


  1.  Are the targets and dates for their achievement well designed (eg is reducing congestion the right objective)?

    (i)  congestion: is certainly one of the right objectives, as delays and unreliability are of considerable concern both to business and the travelling public. The current measure of congestion is (as has been argued at length elsewhere) not necessarily the most meaningful or most helpful overall. We believe that a range of different measures are required for a variety of purposes. The current measure provides an overall efficiency measure, but is of little help to the understanding of users. Other measures could identify a "basket of trips" and or the most congested sections of the system—indicating both delays and reliability. Much of this data is now available. CfIT will be advising Ministers later this year on how the current measure of congestion can be augmented.

    (ii)  rail growth: I support the focus on growing passenger numbers and freight tonnage, along with the improvements sought in punctuality and reliability. Though the single targets of increasing rail passenger growth by 50 per cent and rail freight growth by 80 per cent, without reference to separate sectors of the market, may prove inappropriate. These are valuable milestones, but are not in themselves sufficient to ensure delivery of a rail system that contributes fully to the wider, integrated transport agenda.

  Concentrating solely on these targets would run the risk of decisions that deliver growth at the lowest cost, irrespective of the "value" of the additional journeys made when judged against the Government's wider criteria of road congestion relief, emissions reduction, economic growth and social inclusion. The SRA will need to deliver its strategic plan so as to ensure that rail plays its full part in delivering the wider transport, economic and social agenda.

    (iii)  bus growth: the basic arguments are similar to those for rail. However, in the case of buses the overall growth target of 10 per cent is too low. The transport strategy for London sets a target of 40 per cent growth in bus patronage which on current growth rates should be achievable (currently bus use is growing by 6 per cent per annum, implying that 50 per cent growth by 2010 might be possible). Because London has around one third of the total bus market, 50 per cent growth would imply that the Plan target would be met even though patronage fell by 10 per cent in the rest of the country.

  The Plan target was drawn up based on much lower predictions of growth in London and CfIT would want to see it revised accordingly in the current 10 Year Plan review. A target of 10 per cent growth outside London would be more appropriate.

    (iv)  cycling: we believe that the major emphasis, if more cycling is to be achieved, should be on improved safety, since two-wheeled vehicles (powered and not) remain the riskiest forms of transport. This relies on more and better segregation, visibility, and education of cyclists and motorists. However, the cycling target appears optimistic unless a significant breakthrough is made in terms of attitudes to the various modes—and this might come from implementation of local charging schemes. Company travel plans (through the provision of secure parking and changing/showering facilities) could also be used to encourage higher levels of commuter cycling.

2.  What other targets, if any, should be included (eg modal shift, walking, traffic levels)?

    (i)  A walking target should be included in the plan.

    (ii)  the general thrust of targets based on outcomes (such as congestion) is welcomed and should be widened. There are a number of other such targets which have yet to be defined but should be developed and included:

    (iii)  social exclusion: is an objective of the White Paper, and of the 10 Year Plan. Whilst many of the existing targets may assist this objective, we believe a specific target (or set of targets) is necessary. Connected with social exclusion is the issue of the availability of local services, at a time when health, social service and education authorities have all been centralising.

    (iv)  urban regeneration: similarly, is an objective of the Plan, but not specifically targeted. Indeed it is a concern that the Plan does not pay enough attention to achieving the land-use changes that have such an impact on transport demand. A useful target in respect of land-use change might be expressed in terms of the average length of the journey to work, where CfIT's recent work has shown the UK is the highest in Europe. A target on urban regeneration per se may not be realistic, however, a basket of quality of life targets aimed at reflecting the "liveability" of cities (noise, severance, speed limits, mode splits for walking/cycling) should be developed.

    (v)  health impacts: increased uses of public transport, cycling and walking are all likely to involve more exercise which should contribute to a reduction in the incidence of obesity and of coronary heart disease. The measurement of the incidence of these indicators, alongside the incidence of asthma, should certainly feature in the monitoring of the 10 Year Plan, although transport is only one contributor.

3.  Should a more regional approach be adopted for target setting?

    (i)  In relation to buses and trains, there are strong reasons for a more disaggregated approach to target setting and measurement. This extends to recognising the different economic circumstances of different regions.


1.  How well does the Plan balance social and environmental policy with efficient investment?

    (i)  Social and environmental objectives are not necessarily inconsistent with (economically) efficient investment. Through the development of NATA and GOMMS, the Plan has moved some way from concentration on predominantly economically driven investment, for example proposing a large scale investment in the railways, equal to that proposed for roads. This is welcomed. Balanced delivery against the broad range of objectives would be more likely if the targets suggested above—2(iii), (iv) and (v)—were adopted.

    (ii)  the balance between local investment and strategic networks and the achievement of social and environmental policy will depend critically upon how the local money is spent. The Regional Transport Strategies and Local Transport Plans must be used to ensure that the correct balance is delivered.

2.  Does the Plan set out a balanced approach to all modes (eg walking)?

    (i)  The words and emphasis of the plan do, we believe provide a balanced approach to all modes (with the possible exception at the margin of the role of air travel for domestic journeys, and the use of short-sea shipping to replace land-based freight haulage). CfIT's European Best Practice report highlighted the high commuting distances in the UK. As expressed earlier in relation to land-use, a target for reduced length of the journey to work may be more relevant.

3.  Are there any conflicts between the Plan and the policies in the White Paper—A New Deal for Transport?

    (i)  The Plan sets the framework for delivering the ITWP objectives. The establishment of targets (particularly output focussed targets as discussed above) to guide investment decisions is particularly welcomed. As is the step change in funding for transport. But the plan is to some extent exemplary. The projects that will actually be delivered are dependent on several work streams—the MMS programme, Regional Transport Strategies and Local Transport Plans, The SRA Strategic Plan which are now coming to fruition. Whether the Plan delivers the White Paper objectives will depend on the actual programme of improvement that is carried out.

4.  What impacts will policies in the European White Paper on Transport have on the Plan?

    (i)  CfIT has yet to consider this issue.

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