Memorandum by the Civil Engineering Contractors
Association (IT 60)
TRANSPORT WHITE PAPER
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association
(CECA) represents over 200 civil engineering companies, both large
and small, throughout the UK. Formed in November 1996, it is the
single wholly representative body for Britain's civil engineering
CECA members are responsible for the construction
and maintenance of infrastructure of all kinds, ports and harbours,
airports, railways, light rail and tramways, and inland waterways
as well as roads.
CECA's eight regional associations cover the
whole of England, Scotland and Wales and they determine policy
through a Council and Committees nominated by the regional associations.
This regional structure enables CECA to speak with authority on
behalf of its members throughout the country.
The Transport White Paper was considered by
a group of senior Contractors with wide ranging experience of
infrastructure construction. The following submission is focused
on those aspects of the White Paper, which directly affect the
transport network and the civil engineering industry. Additionally
CECA consulted with the Confederation of British Industry, the
Local Government Association and the British Road Federation.
In its October 1997 Submission to the Government's
Green Paper "Developing an integrated Transport Policy"
CECA welcomed an end to the uncertainty that had affected transport
policy in recent years. The submission outlined various practical
transport congestion solutions.
CECA welcomes the inclusion of its following previously
suggested solutions in the July 1998 Transport White Paper:
Encouragement of public transport
Changes to local authority capital
Establishment of a long-term road
Usage of new technology to reduce
Commitment to integrated schemes
such as park and ride
Reform of planning regulations.
CECA has concern however, over the following proposals/omissions
in the 1998 Transport White Paper:
Lack of urgency with many measures
not operational until after the next general electionmaintenance
only spending on roads for a further two years, commitment only
to start road building programme within the next seven years.
Lack of commitment to light rail
schemeseffectively ruling out a congestion solution.
The de-trunking processcondition
of roads at the transfer time and subsequent changes to local
No ring fencing of road traffic taxation
The number of roads postponed for
further consultation thus leaving the road network incomplete.
Congestion charing methodsmore
"stick than carrot" when public transport alternatives
are not yet in place.
Ambiguity over the Commission for
Integrated Transport, Regional Planning Conferences and Local
This Submission considers the White Paper and
the items listed above in the context of rail, road, aviation,
the waterways; and the new policy instruments to such as the Commission
for Integrated Transport, Regional Planning Conferences and Local
CECA welcomes the aspirations of the Transport
White Paper, as it promotes rail travel as part of an integrated
transport system developing rail as a viable alternative to road
traffic for business, leisure and freight. Policy tools such as
Local Transport Plans, the Strategic Rail Authority, revised planning
guidance to encourage extra movement of freight by rail, and a
target of doubling traffic in five years and tripling it in 10
The Present Situation
CECA welcomes moves to increase the profile
of the rail industry although the Government must use an accurate
starting point as its premise. Research shows that by doubling
freight traffic, 87 per cent of all freight would remain on the
road. In failing to acknowledge this, the Transport White Paper
serves to damage its objectives by raising aspirations which cannot
be met in the short term.
The Transport White Paper acknowledges Railtrack's
commercial obligations, many of which are outlined in their 1998-99
covering the network for the period beyond 2001. Although CECA
acknowledges the Transport White Paper is the start of a process
leading towards integrated transport, Railtrack's commitments
must be taken into consideration with any Government plans. The
Business Plan clearly states Railtrack's commercial objective
is to increase train paths as they represent their main income
It is this objective, and not the Transport
White Paper that will drive the rail infrastructure forward and
the Government must understand and accept this premise.
Rail Infrastructure Fund
It is unclear as to how the Infrastructure Investment
Fund, and its objective to fund investment proposals such as relieving
congestion "pinch points", relate to Railtrack's Business
Strategic Rail Authority
The establishment of the SRA will help to maintain
the higher profile of the rail industry, and its role to set more
demanding performance targets for the rail operating companies
should help increase competition and so boost the rail industry.
Although the Transport White Paper outlines
a number of roles for the SRA, CECA believes the SRA would be
most effective if it were given a clearly defined remit and real
powers such as the ability to levy fines, and its membership was
carefully selected to ensure members had industry experience.
CECA believes the Committee should recommend that the Government
consult fully with Industry to ensure SRA membership is balanced.
The objective to double rail freight in five
years and triple it in 10 years is welcome but, as stated above,
the Government may have overestimated the likelihood of this happening.
Although, there is evidence, that the major retailers are adopting
their own commercial solutions to their distribution problems
as the number of new rail freight depots grows. CECA believes
the Government should go much further to encourage rail freight
movement. The moratorium on further British Railways Board land
sales announced in the Transport White Paper is welcome as such
land offers great benefits for freight distribution. However,
the moratorium on its own is not enough and the Government should
develop further incentives for rail freight movement.
Incentives could be offered to rail companies
to reopen disused railway lines (where economic) and the rail
companies could be encouraged by the SRA to make rail freight
movement as easy as possible. At present it is very easy to move
a train of the same goods by rail but very difficult to move a
single wagon in a train.
Freight grants such as the Freight Facilities
Grant, wil encourage more use of existing rail lines and the development
of re-cycling facilities and improved transport links to manufacturing
bases. However, the application procedure and selection criteria
need to be simplified and steps must be taken to ensure a smooth
transfer when their administration is transferred from the DETR
to the Strategic Rail Authority.
Trans European Networks
The commitment to work with the European Union
to fund Trans European networks is most useful. However, CECA
is concerned over the recent decision not to fund the Channel
Tunnel Rail Link into central London. This final link would help
to improve the economic viability of the entire project and a
decision has been postponed for the immediate future. CECA believes
the project to be a vital link in an integrated transport system.
The postponement of such an important project could damage the
public's perception of the Government's ability to deliver the
aspirations of the Transport White Paper.
Revised Planning Guidance
Although also dealt with later in this Submission,
CECA hopes there will be an opportunity for Industry to make a
contribution to any changes to regional planning guidance in order
to ensure that any new guidance is of the highest quality. If
this is not the case, it is difficult to see how this could encourage
more freight to make the switch from road to rail.
Light Rail Schemes
In areas with existing rail lines light rail
schemes have proved a great success, as the Manchester Metrolink
system demonstrates. The Transport White Paper gives little encouragement
to the development of further light rail schemes, despite their
continuing popularity with the public. CECA is concerned at the
Government's decision to effectively rule out a possible transport
congestion solution. This attitude seems to run contrary to the
spirit of the Transport White Paper which the Government see as
a starting point for further discussion. CECA believes the Committee
should encourage the Government to look again at the benefits
of light rail schemes where appropriate.
CECA welcomes the decision to invest an extra
£700 million in road maintenance over the next three years.
However, the Committee should be aware that this figure was based
on 100 per cent of the current network and the Transport White
Paper contains proposals for reducing the network by 30 per cent
through the de-trunking process. There is also concern that the
money could be used for other purposes and CECA suggests this
money be ring fenced for road maintenance only.
The Transport White Paper proposal for a long
term maintenance strategy to avoid expensive "late maintenance"
will save money but CECA feels this new approach needs to be monitored
and the Committee might consider the establishment of performance
criteria to ensure the work is carried out satisfactorily.
Taken together the Comprehensive Spending Review,
the Roads Review announcement and the Transport White Paper paved
the way for 37 road schemes to be started within seven years.
Although welcome, CECA is concerned over the duration of the start
period for these roads. The Government has accepted the principle
of spreading its maintenance workload, but does not appear to
apply the same principle to new road schemes. Many of the road
schemes are urgently required, e.g., M6 junction 11-16 widening
in Birmingham and the M25 junctions 16-19. CECA hopes these road
schemes will be started as a matter of urgency.
Another issue is the 55 road schemes referred
for further consultation through Regional Planning Conferences.
Roads contained in the Review have already been reviewed on three
previous occasions when their benefits to the communities affected
had already been proven. CECA is concerned over the criteria used
to prioritise these roads.
The Appraisal Summary Tables
published by the DETR, used to prioritise road schemes, state
that for certain road schemes a switch to rail is unlikely to
reduce congestion and suggests the road scheme is the only viable
solution. This is the case with the M1 and M6 vital transport
arteries, subject to further reviews by RPCs. Subjecting these
roads schemes to further consultation does not help to alleviate
the problems of the communities affected and undermines the aspirations
of the Transport White Paper as the road network remains incomplete
until they are built. CECA hopes these roads can be subject to
Trunk RoadsThe De-Trunking Process
The de-trunking process will take place over
a seven year period and CECA is concerned over legal procedures,
technical difficulties and time scale associated with de-trunking
and the proposed virtual de-trunking process. The question of
the right of a local authority to refuse to accept a trunk road
is not answered by the Transport White Paper and CECA would like
the Government to issue some early guidance on this matter.
There are also concerns over the ability of
Local Authorities to maintain the new roads within their budgets
especially if there is not a sufficient transfer of resources
to enable them to maintain their new responsibilities. CECA would
again suggest money for road maintenance is ring fenced. CECA
perceives there to be problems over the condition of roads at
the time of handover which could delay important maintenance work.
To ensure the success of this programme, a minimum standard of
road maintenance and upkeep must be applied to the de-trunked
roads to ensure they are maintained at a consistent level throughout
the country. The Government may consider some type of roads regular,
similar to those in the education and prisons sectors to monitor
the road network. Such a move would increase the public's confidence
in the trunk road network and assist local authorities with their
Congestion Charging Methods
The objectives of the Transport White Paper
will be achieved through the encouragement of car drivers (as
the largest road users) to switch to other forms of transport.
CECA believe this process should be attempted through a "carrot
and stick" method and should begin once viable public transport
systems are in place. In order to maintain the support of the
public any income raised from congestion charging would have to
be ring fenced for road infrastructure development and improvement.
The suggestions in the Transport White Paper,
including a car parking tax and special tolls for specific motorway
lanes, will be difficult to enforce and install, not least due
to the IT commitment. The Government must also be careful not
to implement these little tried methods and so inadvertently penalise
low-income households or rural communities where currently there
is no alternative to the car.
The 30-year airport policy designed to encourage
the integration of airports with other forms of transport is welcome,
as is the objective to build transport links to airports. However,
the Transport White Paper fails to answer the funding question
of such links, pushing the funding commitment onto the aviation
industry with the suggestion they use income raised from airport
car parking charges.
The provision of transport links to airports
is vital, not only to the economic future of the country as aviation
grows in importance, but also in the role aviation plays in the
integrated transport system. This can be seen from the growth
in the domestic flight market; and especially as the Transport
White Paper reveals the congestion pinch points for the road and
rail networks are virtually in the same places.
If this market is to continue to grow, transport
links such as rail links must be constructed. Simply expecting
the aviation industry to foot the bill is not realistic, especially
in the case of local authority owned airports.
The Government should, perhaps consider incentives
to encourage the development of public/private partnership programmes
to finance the considerable costs of airport rail links in order
to meet the Transport White Paper objective of a reduction in
the dominance of road travel to airports.
The Transport White Paper is correct to acknowledge
the potential of the Country's canal network. Opportunities exist
for the transportation of waste on the Manchester Ship Canal and
the Thames for example and the Government should offer greater
incentives to encourage this movement. Canals could also be exploited
in tourist locations not only in the traditional manner of boating
holidays but perhaps also for transportation, again Government
incentives are required to encourage this development.
CECA is pleased to note the acknowledgement
in the Transport White Paper of the 3.5 per cent of road freight
that could be diverted to water but is disappointed by the lack
of spending commitment in the Paper to encourage this movement.
As with aviation, rail links to ports need to
be developed and CECA will support the Strategic Rail Authority
in its efforts to encourage the review of rail access to major
However, the lack of specific resources or even
a strategic pointer as where resources and incentives could be
sought is missing from the Transport White Paper.
Commission for Integrated Transport
The Commission for Integrated Transport will
help to maintain the profile of integrated transport and will
be at its most effective if it has a detailed remit and a membership
of sufficient quality to ensure the Government listens to its
recommendations. It will fail to meet its objectives if it simply
becomes a "talking shop".
The Transport White Paper establishes various
bodies to implement its work. To ensure these are as effective
as possible, CECA suggests one of the roles of the Commission
for Integrated Transport could be to monitor the overall development
of the integrated transport system, perhaps through the use of
CECA urges the Government to consult widely
over the membership of the Commission and would suggest the Committee
recommend that membership contains Industry figures. CECA would
certainly be willing to serve on the Commission, and because of
its position as the trade association representing the infrastructure
constructors, would be able to ensure design and building characteristics
were considered at an early stage in a transport solution to ensure
maximum value for money for the tax-payer.
Regional Planning Conferences
The Transport White Paper acknowledges the role
planning guidance has to play in the creation of an integrated
transport system. CECA commends the Government's approach in establishing
guidance through consultation with Chambers of Commerce, the Highways
Agency, SRA, transport operators and infrastructure providers.
CECA welcomes the opportunity to contribute toward this consultation.
The aims of the Transport White Paper rest with the Planning Guidance,
which will enable changes to be implemented. The Committee may
wish to suggest interested parties are consulted over planning
Local Transport Plans
The requirement of Local Authorities to draw
up five year Local Transport Plans set within Regional Planning
Guidance is welcomed by CECA. However, CECA shares the concern
of local government over the lack of current guidance over how
these plans are expected to work in practice. CECA suggests the
Committee ensure the Government not only consults widely when
establishing guidance for these plans, but issues some early clarification
as to their likely remit as a matter of urgency.
CECA welcomes the first White Paper to address
transport issues for over 20 years and is ready to help the Government
achieve the objectives of the Transport White Paper. Having carefully
examined the document, CECA believes the objectives of the Transport
White Paper can be met if the suggestions and concerns outlined
in this Submission are addressed. CECA wishes to participate in
the dialogue which will deliver an integrated transport system
and hopes the Environment, Transport and the Regional Affairs
Committee will consider the following points as part of its deliberations:
must consult widely when establishing the Commission for Integrated
Transport, and the Strategic Rail Authority and when drawing up
Regional Planning Guidance, and Local Transport Plans to ensure
these bodies and plans have a defined remit and real power. They
will not succeed if they become "talking shops" or if
their recommendations fail to command respect. They must not be
dominated by any group and to ensure the fullest possible success
Industry must be involved. CECA asks the Government to make use
of the unique expertise civil engineering contractors offer, in
order to ensure that the benefits of innovation and real value
for money is gained for the taxpayer.
and Industry will be willing to co-operate to achieve the Transport
White Paper objectives if the Government maintains a consistent
approach to its decision making. Contradictions, such as Government
support for Trans European Networks with the postponement of the
final phase of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link into central London,
sent a confused message to Industry and the public alike. Similarly,
the criteria used to prioritise road and other transport schemes
must be consistent to maintain the support of the communities
and Industries affected.
Commitmentif the Government
really wants an integrated transport system it must increase transport
spending. Transport spending may not be as well received as education
or health spending, but it is a vital investment in the economic
well being of the country, which will help to generate the finance
for tomorrow's schools and hospitals. New revenue raising methods
are in their infancy and so local authority spending and rail
and road maintenance funding assessments must be increased; in
the case of local authorities to encompass their new trunk road
responsibilities, and that money must be ring fenced for future
road maintenance. Similarly possible transport schemes such as
light rail schemes should not be rejected if they are the most
transport system will not be created unless the Government appreciates
the realities of the current transportation system as its starting
point and in particular, the commercial realities the providers
of the transport system; the rail, aviation and road transport
industries operate within. Delayed spending on road, and other
transport solutions, is a false economy which places both further
commercial pressure on Industry and discourages investment. If
the UK is to remain competitive, and if the public are to be persuaded
to alter the manner in which they travel real commitment and early
implementation of the necessary schemes must occur.
12 Railtrack Network Management Statement. Back
Understanding the New Approach to Appraisal-A Guide, Complete
Set of the Appraisal Summary Tables, DETR. Back