DfT set out transport challenges

Delivering quantifiable reductions in CO2 emissions and reducing the impact of transport on quality of life are two of the aims that are set to be at the heart of Government's Sustainable Transport Green Paper.

The paper, which was originally set to be published last month, has been delayed to await the recommendations of the Climate Change Committee on transport.

Providing a sneak preview of the current draft of the paper, which covers 2009-14, Mark Lambirth, director of planning and performance at the Department for Transport, said the paper sets out five challenges to tackle.

These are climate change, competitiveness and productivity, equality of opportunity, health, safety and security, and quality of life and the natural environment.

Goals in each of these five areas have been set for local, national and international transport networks, such as reducing noise pollution at all levels, and improving the reliability of journey times.

Transport chiefs welcomed many of the ambitions of the paper, but more still needed to be done, such as road charging to reduce congestion, and improving the alternatives.

David Quarmby, chairman of the Independent Transport Commission, said: “We cannot avoid the conclusion that selected road user charging will be necessary at some point to avoid congestion.”

There were also concerns that not enough investment is being promised to increase capacity on travel networks – including roads.

Martin Richards, of CILT (the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport), said: “Population growth is going to be a key driver.

“Government appears to be relying on smart travel and technology rather than road improvements. Is it enough?

“It’s not an alternative to investment. It’s a limited resource. We can’t keep squeezing another 10% out of the networks by being clever.”

Iain Coucher, chief executive of Network Rail, said electrifying the railway would be a major environmental boost.

“Railways do not need to burn fossil fuels. There are alternative ways to power the network. Why do we use up scarce resources on trains?” he said.

However, the DfT has no immediate plans to do this and is currently recommending that rail companies buying new trains – which are expected to last 40 years – should choose models that still run on diesel but can be converted to other fuels.

Mr Lambirth said: “Wouldn’t the ideal train be one that’s made lighter so its carbon footprint is smaller and can be converted to different energy sources?”

Kate Martin

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