Memorandum by the Freight Transport Association
FTA welcomes the Committee's inquiry into the
Government's 10 Year Transport Plan. The cumulative effects of
under-investment in the nation's transport infrastructure and
the low priority given to transport in the economy in recent years
are now making transport a serious political issue for the Government.
Journey time reliability on the road and rail networks has deteriorated
in recent years and the service levels of the country's infrastructure
is falling below what is required to support the world's fourth
largest economy. This has serious implications for economic growth,
competitiveness, jobs and future inward investment due to the
increasing cost and lower efficiency of supply chains based in
FTA welcomed the 10 Year Plan when it was published
as the first co-ordinated investment programme in transport in
over thirty years. The pace of delivery has been disappointing
and FTA has attributed this to three factors:
1. The long lead times inherent in the planning
process for road schemes, together with the need to complete the
multi-modal studies of the corridors where congestion pressures
2. The need to develop and agree a robust
plan for investment and revenue support for the railways which
satisfied the Treasury and the private sector, a process hindered
by safety issues and the status of Railtrack.
3. The low priority hitherto given to transport
issues by the government, evidenced by the delayed Transport Act,
an aggressive fuel taxation regime and delayed funding decisions.
Despite the promises made in the 10 Year Plan,
it has become apparent that any reduction in congestion and improvement
in journey times will at best be delivered at the end of the ten-year
period and probably later. Congestion on the road and rail networks
will get worse before the benefits of any improvements are realised.
The question confronting transport managers in industry is how
bad will congestion become before it gets better. Increased journey
times will reduce vehicle utilisation and mean that over time
more vehicles will be needed to cover existing distribution patterns.
Businesses are being advised to plan for longer journey times
in the future. This is requiring additional vehicles, more warehousing
and distribution centers and less efficiency in the use of the
vehicle fleet. Many of the efficiency gains made in logistics
practices over the past 10 years will be eroded over the next
10 years as congestion grows and less of the country becomes accessible
from existing distribution centres within the working day.
This evidence covers the four main areas to
be covered by the Committee.
A key target set by the 10 Year Plan is that
road congestion will be reduced by 5 per cent over the levels
in 1999 by 2010. This is to be achieved by increasing substantially
the number of passengers and amount of goods being carried by
rail and by public transport. This is a welcome but highly ambitious
target and is dependent on a number of major assumptions being
One of these is that the various measures in
the Plan will bring about a large reduction in car traffic. The
forecasts made in the Plan are as follows:
CONGESTION LEVELS BASED ON 1999 WITH AND
WITHOUT 10-YEAR PLAN IMPROVEMENTS
| ||All Roads
||Inter-urban Trunk Roads
|Base assumptions||15 %
|2010 with 10 YP improvements||-5 %
Source: 10 Year Plan.
Yet the forecasts for road traffic contained in the latest
national transport statistics predict a 17 per cent increase in
all road traffic even with the 10 Year Plan improvements in place:
FORECASTS OF ROAD TRAFFIC IN ENGLAND, WITH AND WITHOUT
10-YEAR PLAN IMPROVEMENTS
|Vehicle Type||Without 10 Year Plan
||With 10 Year Plan
|Cars and Taxis||121
|Buses & Coaches||109
|All road traffic||122
Source: Transport Statistics Great Britain 2001, table
These figures show that the Government expects to bring about
a 5 per cent reduction in congestion despite a 17 per cent increase
in road traffic over the period of the Plan. This is the net increase
after any transfer of journeys to other modes has been made. The
assumption being made is that better traffic management techniques
and information provision to drivers will allow a modestly expanded
infrastructure to cope with a sixth more traffic and still reduce
the level of congestion by 5 per cent. The sophistication of the
measures required to do this have not yet been fully explained
by the Government and more information regarding these is required
to understand how they will bring about the required levels of
network efficiency to reach the congestion reduction target.
The Committee should test the assumptions made about the
reductions in car travel and the effectiveness of the traffic
management measures intended to bring about the targeted levels
of congestion reduction.
Congestion Charging and Work Place Parking Levies
The FTA is opposed to congestion charging and work-place
levies for commercial road vehicles. Research work carried out
for FTA shows that proposals to introduce congestion charging
in London will provide negligible benefits for commercial vehicles.
Analysing data supplied by "Road Charging Options for London"(
ROCOL), Imperial College concludes that nine out of 10 commercial
vehicles will experience increased daily costs of between one
and 7 per cent depending on the category of vehicle. Yet the average
journey time savings due to the reduction in other traffic is
between three and four minutes. This is of no practical value
in most distribution operations.
FTA further estimates that HGV commercial vehicles will typically
pay between £1,000 and £1,200 per annum per vehicle
in congestion charges as well as significant administration and
other costs in complying with congestion charging schemes. For
large fleet operators and small and medium sized commercial vehicle
operators alike this will be a significant additional cost burden.
Due to the inelasticity of demand for road transport and
the need to make deliveries to premises in city centres, commercial
vehicle operators will have no option but to pay congestion charges.
Congestion charges should be targeted where there is an alternative
transport option. This option does not exist for commercial vehicle
deliveries in city centres. The London congestion-charging scheme
provides a clear case for differentiation between cars and commercial
The Committee should test the assumed reductions in commercial
vehicle journeys expected from the imposition of a congestion
charge, in view of the absence of alternative arrangements for
the distribution of goods and services in central urban areas
and the very small time-savings likely to be achieved.
The principal barrier to the delivery of the 10 Year Plan
improvements will be the long lead-time in the planning process.
Even schemes that have been approved are not expected to come
on-stream until 2008 at the earliest. The Government has announced
proposals for speeding up this process by asking Parliament to
review such schemes in future and so shorten the inquiry process.
This step is welcomed by FTA.
The Multi-Modal Studies are investigations into some of the
most congested transport corridors. The stated aim of the studies
is to ensure that alternatives to originally proposed road schemes
are examined and that other means of meeting the demand for travel
is considered. The recommendations of two of the studies have
now been determined by the Secretary of State but despite two
years of intense study any recommended infrastructure schemes
will need to be subject to the planning process, including lengthy
public inquiry. The scrutiny of these projects at local level
has been undertaken by consultants and overseen by regional government
and latterly by the new regional planning authorities. Many studies
have involved extensive public consultations with many local interest
groups and have been represented in the steering committees. Most
of the improvements upon which the 10 Year Plan relies in order
to deliver increased infrastructure capacity are the subject of
the Multi-Modal Studies and FTA believes that the Government must
give special status to their findings so that they may be implemented
within the required time.
The findings of the Multi-Modal Studies be should be subject
to accelerated public hearing procedures and land use planning
processes so as to deliver their recommended improvements within
the 10 Year Plan time-frame.
3. TARGETS AND
The targets contained in the 10 Year Plan are ambitious and
place high reliance on several major assumptions about the effectiveness
of policy. The targets and their planned achievement dates should
be reviewed annually and reassessed depending on the progress
made. The 10 Year Plan should effectively be rolled forward every
year. This recognises that on-going measures will be required
after 2010 and that the long delivery times of many infrastructure
improvement projects will not be realised until after 2010.
In order to provide industry with some certainty in its planning
and to monitor the effectiveness of policy measures FTA proposes
the use of performance indicators that are relevant to the users
of the infrastructure. Such indicators can be developed for the
road and railway networks and in both cases should focus on the
Network Reliabilitythis would monitor the
repeatability of representative point-to-point timings on the
road and rail networks.
Network Capacitythis would measure the
rate at which capacity of the network(s) was being increased by
new construction, establishment of traffic priority measures and
bottlenecks, or through improved traffic management techniques.
Network Resiliencethis would measure the
rate at which networks recover from unplanned closure or loss
of capacity. This is an important issue for those parts of the
road and rail networks that are operating at or above their design
capacity and where even small incidents can result in major disruption.
The 10 Year Plan will need to define its success criteria
and develop management tools to measure progress towards them.
These performance indicators should be jointly owned and developed
with industry so that a common data set is used to monitor the
condition of the road and rail networks.
The Committee should commission a series of representative
performance indicators that allow ready assessment to be made
of the effectiveness of policies and the delivery of improvements.
4. INTEGRATED TRANSPORT
In the 10 Year Plan the Government attempted to reconcile
many of the issues confronting transport policy. It established
challenging targets for rail and public transport whilst recognising
that road capacity improvements were necessary and could bring
environmental relief for communities. In FTA's view this restored
a balance to transport policy that accepted the predominance of
road transport in the economy and met some of the pressures mounting
in the road network whilst continuing encouragement of the development
of other modes. Progress on many of the aspirations for rail must
now await the establishment of a permanent successor to Railtrack
and the implementation of the Strategic Rail Authority's plans.
The 10 Year Plan provides important commitment to the development
of rail freight at a time of uncertainty.
The proposals contained in the European Commission's White
Paper on Transport "2010Time to Decide" deal
mainly with the dominant role of road freight and the underperformance
of European railways. The major proposal is the widespread adoption
of road user charging, discussion of which in the UK has been
overtaken by the Treasury's consultation on modernisation of the
taxation system for lorries, published on 29 November. FTA doubts
the effectiveness of many of the proposals in the Commission's
White Paper for the same reasons as in the UKa long lead
time for infrastructure planning and development and the long
legislative time-scales in the European Institutions.
Whilst questioning whether some of the targets can be achieved
FTA still believes that the 10 Year Plan is the best opportunity
for a single coherent transport investment policy to be developed
in Britain for over 30 years and represents the minimum that must
Freight Transport Association
The Freight Transport Association represents the transport
interests of over 11,000 British businesses. Its members range
from small and medium size enterprises to multi-national public
companies and are involved in the movement of goods in all modes
of transport. FTA members operate over 200,000 heavy goods vehicles,
consign over 90 per cent of freight moved by rail and 75 per cent
of freight shipped overseas by sea and by air. This unique multi-modal
mandate enables FTA to speak authoritatively on all aspects of
freight based on the broader transport needs of industry in the