Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Eighth Report


63. This section sets out the Committee's findings on evidence taken on the Plan's implementation. First we consider the period over which the Plan has been assessed before presenting more detailed discussion of the issues surrounding the different elements of the Plan (such as land-use, passenger rail, rail freight, buses and walking). The findings from all of the elements are drawn together to examine the phasing of investment, the sources of funding and whether the multi-modal studies will provide a balanced programme of work for the remainder of the Plan. The section concludes with a discussion of the current skills shortage crisis, which threatens to undermine the success of the Plan.

The Plan Period

64. The Plan is entitled Transport 2010: The 10 Year Plan. The Foreword to the Plan describes it as a ten year route map that "takes a realistic view of the challenges we face and presents an ambitious vision of what we can achieve by 2010".[118] The target figures in the Plan relate to 2010, using the year 2000 as a baseline. The expenditure figures for the Plan however start in April 2001 and run to April 2011. The Department told the Committee that the official start date for the Plan was April 2001 and therefore, at the time of our inquiry it was less than one year into the Plan.[119]

65. The Plan was published in July 2000. The targets contained within the Plan all have a completion date of 2010 or earlier. The expectation of the Committee and the public is that the Plan would deliver progress from the time it was launched and that there would not be a hiatus of nine months, until the next financial year began, before it started. Indeed, this was not the Department's intention at the time the Plan was launched. A list of projects from July 2000 to 2010 was published concurrently with the Plan.[120] The list also inevitably included a number of on-going commitments that would be funded during the first years of the Plan such as the West Coast Main Line upgrade. Confusion over the exact start date of the Plan is a distraction from the issues. The Department will be judged on the progress it makes in meeting the targets it has set for 2010. On a time line, the Department is almost one-fifth of the way there — the Plan and its implementation are not.

Planning and Land Use

66. The need to travel and decisions on how to travel are inextricably linked with the location of key facilities such as workplaces, schools, hospitals, shopping centres and recreational areas. Land­use and planning issues should be at the very heart of the 10 Year Plan.


67. Regional Transport Strategies are being developed as part of the Regional Planning Guidance. The Plan describes Regional Transport Strategies as "designed to ensure that transport investment is co­ordinated across modes, reflects wider land­use planning considerations (including housing) and to provide a regional context for Local Transport Plans".[121] Despite the strategic importance of Regional Transport Strategies and issues such as housing and new development, only one half page of the 107 pages of the 10 Year Plan is set aside to describe them. There is no indication of the content or status of the strategies or how important they will be in defining the programme of work for the Plan, nor of their contribution to the Plan's outcomes.

68. The Royal Town Planning Institute believes that the Plan has shown "little evidence of integration at the planning stage" and that there was confusion over the relationship between transport strategies and plans and the development planning system. West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (Metro) told the Sub­Committee that there is "a discrepancy in time­scales between regional guidance, local plans, transport plans and the 10 Year Plan".[122] Hampshire County Council told us that there are significant pressures on location of new housing development, particularly in the south east and that this was not directly addressed in the Plan.[123]

69. The effectiveness of the current structure of regional governance was questioned. Professor Begg told the Sub-Committee that other European countries that have stronger regional government have been more effective and that "local authorities are all too often too small to deal with some of the big strategic planning and transportation issues."[124] Bristol City Council argued that Local Transport Plans had been subject to significant public consultation and that the large number of bodies involved in major infrastructure development at a regional level was currently a barrier to the Plan's progress.[125]

70. Greater clarity is required about the linkages between the different levels of regional planning and transport decisions, local transport plans and multi-modal studies. The revised Plan must be based on the outcomes of joined-up strategies so that the projects contained within it represent those that will be implemented on the ground.


71. The 10 Year Plan states that it will "ensure that transport plays its full part in delivering our wider objectives, contributing in particular to the renaissance of our cities and the revitalisation of the countryside. It is an essential building block for the urban and rural white papers and will support regeneration and economic growth"[126] and that "in the longer­term our new planning policies aim to produce a more sustainable and less dispersed patterns of development, and should help reduce the need to travel".[127]

72. The Department believes that new land­use planning policies will have significant effects during the period of the Plan. However, the Department told us that the model used to develop the Plan was not capable of representing some land­use factors and that a new model was being developed. It is not clear from the analysis in the Plan what contribution land­use changes might make to meeting the Plan's objectives. This was reflected in the evidence received by the Sub­Committee. Hampshire County Council believed that land­use changes might provide 5 per cent of the change required to create a sustainable transport system.[128] Bristol City Council told the Sub­Committee that land­use change was at the heart of the its transport policy and that they now have "five times as many people living in the city centre as five years ago".[129] Metro pointed out that the decisions we take now on land­use planning will have an impact for 100 years or more.[130]

73. The Treasury provided the Sub­Committee with a list of measures that have been introduced following the recommendations of Lord Rogers' Urban Task Force including "tax relief for contaminated land, enhanced capital allowances for creating flats over shops, a range of VAT reliefs to encourage conversion and renovation of existing properties" and changes to stamp duty.[131] The Treasury estimates that the overall tax package is worth £1 billion over five years. However, the transport implications of these measures remain unquantified and the Financial Secretary seemed unclear about the link between location decisions and transport.[132]

74. The Institute of Logistics and Transport was concerned that the Plan did not pay enough attention to land­use changes that will have a major impact on travel. In a survey, 55 per cent of its members believed that local authorities would concentrate on changes to transport supply (such as new roads and light rail schemes) and new information systems when greater emphasis should be given to land­use interventions. Professor Begg told the Sub­Committee that land­use interventions were "crucial" and that:

"The 10 Year Plan is quite good at keeping people mobile. That is OK if you have a car or you can afford to travel by train, but if your local shop is closing because there is a big out of town shopping centre being built, then that just marginalises people in society."

75. Land­use changes over the period of the Plan should play a crucial role in reducing the need to travel and generating urban and rural environments that encourage travel by foot, cycle and public transport. If the Department is taking land use and transport interactions seriously, then the Plan must set out what needs to be done, how much it will cost, what it expects the impact to be, and provide details of how this will be monitored in the same way that it does for road building.

Improving transport modes


76. The Government's rail strategy as set out in the Plan is "to increase the use of the railway by passengers and freight, to provide new capacity to meet demand, and to improve the quality of service to customers, while reducing most currently regulated fares in real terms".[133] The Plan states that "a large expansion of rail services will make an important contribution to reducing future levels of congestion on the roads".[134] The targets for passenger rail set out in the Plan are, by 2010, a 50 per cent growth in passenger kilometres, more frequent, reliable and punctual services, and a reduction in overcrowding on London commuter rail services.[135] The Plan provides an indicative list of projects that will be developed to achieve the Plan's targets. It anticipates £14.7 billion of public sector investment and £14.3 billion of public resource expenditure together with £34 billion of private capital. Since the Plan was launched, the total public sector contribution has been increased to £33.5 billion.[136] In January 2002, the Strategic Rail Authority launched its Strategic Plan, which set out how it will achieve the aims of the 10 Year Plan through new infrastructure projects and the passenger rail franchising process.[137]

Growth Forecasts

77. The Department estimates that even without any changes to the rail network rail passenger demand will grow by 33 per cent by 2010. However, in the absence of improvements to reduce overcrowding, that growth will be constrained to 23 per cent. The Plan assumes that improvements in frequency, reliability and journey ambience will remove this constraint and encourage the additional 17 per cent growth.[138] The Strategic Rail Authority revised the Department's target of a 50 per cent growth in passenger kilometres to a range of between 40 and 50 per cent. The Chairman, Richard Bowker, told the Sub-Committee that "it is possible to deliver all aspects of that range, and 50 per cent remains an achievable target".[139] Railtrack believes that the passenger growth targets will not be met until 2015.[140] It further notes that if the 10 Year Plan target to reduce road congestion is achieved, the rail targets will be missed by a wider margin,[141] a view shared by the Independent Transport Commission.[142] Railtrack told the Sub-Committee that "the key drivers of growth of rail demand are GDP growth, traffic congestion ... and costs of motoring relative to those of rail," and notes those key factors are largely within the Government's control.[143] It is clear that Government transport policy outside of the railways will have a significant impact on the industry's ability to meet the targets currently set and that reduced congestion and falling motoring costs act against growth. There is no consensus within the industry about what constitutes a reasonable target for rail growth. Progress towards the current rail passenger growth target is behind schedule.

Regional Balance

78. The target of a 50 per cent increase in passenger kilometres was criticised for being too coarse.[144] Seventy per cent of all passenger kilometres are travelled on the network in the south east. Significant growth is also expected in commuter travel to London and investment is required if the reduction in overcrowding targets are to be met.[145] Several organisations believed that the current growth target has led to a Plan that is dominated by improvements in the south east at the expense of other regional improvements.[146] The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive has, for example, set a target of achieving a three to fourfold increase in local rail passenger journeys.[147] However, the Greater Manchester capacity improvements that were expected in the 10 Year Plan are not now expected to be started before 2010 according to the Strategic Rail Authority's Plan.[148]

79. Mr Bowker told the Sub-Committee that whilst it was true that the major capital investment projects were focussed on London and the south east, the Strategic Plan was actually "quite balanced".[149] The average subsidy per journey in the south east is only one-thirteenth the average subsidy of the regional networks.[150] Projects funded under the Rail Passenger Partnership[151] scheme in other regions can deliver greater benefits than the same level of investment in the South-East.[152]

80. It is unclear whether, in setting one national target for rail passenger growth, the Government intended to concentrate rail capital investment in the south east. However, despite the Rail Passenger Partnership, it seems likely that more limited rail investment in other regions will adversely affect the implementation of integrated transport strategies. The Strategic Rail Authority also suggests that regional investment may offer better value for money than investment in and around London. The national target for rail passenger kilometre growth has created a regional imbalance in the Plan. The Strategic Rail Authority should develop other indicators to ensure that passenger rail can make a full contribution to Regional Transport Strategies in the context of Regional Economic Strategies.

118   Transport 2010: The 10 Year Plan, p5. Back

119   Q58, Q610. Back

120   Delivery of Improvements over the life of the plan, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, July 2000. Back

121   Transport 2010: The 10 Year Plan, p31. Back

122   TYP 37 Back

123   TYP 51 Back

124   TYP 32. Back

125   Ibid. Back

126   Transport 2010: The 10 Year Plan, p 5. Back

127   Ibid, p 14. Back

128   TYP 51. Back

129   Q 911. Back

130   Ibid. Back

131   TYP61A. Back

132   Q 761. Back

133   Transport 2010: The 10 Year Plan, p42. Back

134   Ibid. Back

135   Ibid, p100. Back

136   The Strategic Plan, Strategic Rail Authority, January 2002. Back

137   Ibid. Back

138   Transport 2010: Background Analysis, p9. Back

139   Q121. Back

140   TYP52. Back

141   Ibid. Back

142   TYP2. Back

143   Q324. Back

144   TYP52, TYP26. Back

145   The Strategic Plan, p9. Back

146   TYP18, TYP26, TYP31, TYP37, TYP56. Back

147   TYP31. Back

148   Q124. Back

149   Q150. Back

150   Q148. Back

151   £430 million is available over the period of the 10 Year Plan to develop new services or facilities that would otherwise not be commercially viable. Back

152   Q161. Back

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