Governernment (sic) looks to road and rail upgrades to boost economy
Guardian: November 25 2008
Mark Milner, industrial editor
The government plans to invest an extra £1bn on a package of transport schemes next year as part of its overall strategy to boost the economy have met with a mixed reaction.
The Campaign for Better Transport described the package as a 'mix of the good, the bad and the ugly'
The plans, announced by the Department for Transport, include the early delivery of 200 new rail carriages, opening another 500 miles of motorway hard shoulders to traffic, an enhanced link between the A1 and M1 and improved transport links to ports and airports.
Transport secretary Geoff Hoon said: "I want people and business to be able to choose how and when they travel and to do so reliably, comfortably and safely. I therefore remain committed to tackling the problems of congestion and crowding, while at the same time reducing transport related greenhouse gas emissions."
The Campaign for Better Transport described the package as a "mix of the good, the bad and the ugly".
Its executive director, Stephen Joseph, said: "This is a ragbag list of schemes rather than a considered package that is needed to take us forward to 2014. While the rail upgrades are encouraging, some of the road schemes will worsen rather than solve local traffic problems."
Some of the schemes, including the early delivery of train carriages for services in the Thames Valley, around Bristol and Northern England, and the enhanced M1/A1 link via the A46 were announced as part of the pre-budget report, but the Department for Transport said the package also included a further £300m to improve links to Manchester Airport and Felixstowe, Harwich and Immingham Ports.
The RMT, the UK's largest rail union, welcomed the early arrival of the 200 carriages but said the way to ensure maximum economic benefit was to ensure they were built in the UK.
"This is an ideal opportunity to give the British manufacturing sector a shot in the arm and to bolster engineering skills in an industry that has taken so many serious blows in recent years," RMT general secretrary, Bob Crow, said.
Liberal Democrat transport spokesman, Norman Baker, said: "For Geoff Hoon to claim these proposals are environmentally friendly is a joke. It is clear the Government's priority is roads, roads and more roads."