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1999-12-13 DET-001
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions


Prescott sets out ten-year plan for investment

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Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

Prescott sets out ten-year plan for investment

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13 December 1999
source Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
type Press release

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott today launched a ten-year investment plan to transform Britain's transport systems.

In a keynote speech (see below) to the Institute of Public Policy Research seminar in London, Mr Prescott said he was giving transport the long-term stability necessary to achieve large-scale capital investment.

The travelling public would benefit from the progressive upgrading of the system - a package which could cost at least £80billion - by 2010.

And he has asked Minister for Transport Lord Macdonald to develop the detailed plan, working in partnership with key players from the public and private sectors as well as central and local government. Lord Macdonald will report to the Deputy Prime Minister by the middle of next year with a firm timetable for action and an agreed finance package.

Mr Prescott said:

"By next summer we will publish a comprehensive programme for change, mapping out an investment programme through to 2010. It will be a ten-year route map for a transport system fit for the next century, with milestones along the way.

"On the roads, we will tackle congestion bottlenecks, improving journey times and making life easier for motorists and business. We will also increase the number of by-passes to be constructed.

"On the railways, our aim by 2010 must be to rival the best whether in Europe or further afield: new and safer stations; a modernised train fleet with every train new or refurbished; renewal of all the main lines, with faster, reliable and much more frequent services; new and faster tilting trains travelling at 140mph, cutting inter-city journey times throughout the country.

"In our towns and cities, we will see more light-rail systems, giving people a modern, attractive alternative to the car. We will also deliver high-quality bus networks, fully integrated with road and rail, with satellite tracking sytems to deliver real-time passenger information.

"And across the nation, we will put in place a one-stop-shop telephone enquiry service. This will provide information for fully-integrated journeys, backed up with single ticket, covering all modes of travel."

Heralding a new future for transport, Mr Prescott said huge investment required huge sums of money and he set out where that would be found.

"Public Private Partnerships are at the heart of our transport renaissance, but money will also come from the fare box, from radical new forms of finance, including congestion charging and the ring-fencing of future fuel duty increases.

"There will be more private money and a larger contribution from the public purse, either directly, or through partnerships with local authorities or the private sector. This is not said lightly. The Chancellor and I have agreed the need for an ambitions, long-term approach to future investment in transport."

The Deputy Prime Minister said much had already been achieved in the period since the election.

"We have been tackling the mess caused by decades of underinvestment and neglect - putting right the problems of a fragmented, privatised railway system, the decline of deregulated bus services and a crumbling roads network. We have also put in place the right policy framework, set out in our Integrated Transport White Paper. Now we have our Transport Bill, which will deliver the powers we need to get Britain moving again," he explained.

Mr Prescott added:

"I will not dodge the difficult decisions. I will not sacrifice long-term gain for fear of short-term unpopularity.

"I will reject those who would force the car off the road, and those who say road building is the answer to every transport problem. Faced with dogma we will offer greater choice, this year, next year, every year. Because a ten-year plan doesn't mean waiting ten years for things to happen. It means real improvements year on year towards our goal of rivalling the best in Europe. And step by step we will deliver."

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott - Speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research

Today I am setting out my vision for how we plan for transport in the next 10 years.

Anyone who meets me comes away certain of one thing: I am passionate about transport, passionate about improving public transport, or even driving my car, passionate about making travelling easier throughout Britain, passionate about giving people real choices.

My commitment goes back a long way -first as a merchant seaman, then as a union official, then as an MP, then as an Opposition spokesman, and finally as Deputy Prime Minister. I have never lost my determination to make transport efficient, reliable and, above all, safe.

Now, after two and a half years in Government, tackling transport problems, I am more committed and determined than ever to improving Britain's transport system.

Our aim is simple and ambitious - to transform our transport infrastructure over the next 10 years, and make Britain's transport the rival of any in Europe. Our approach will be radically different from anything tried before. Its new ingredients are integration in place of a chaotic free-for all, and, crucially, partnership between public and private sectors to lever in more money than ever before.

I was under no illusions when I took this job, transport could not be transformed overnight. We inherited a transport policy with no agenda for integration. We inherited decades of under investment and the misery of run-down trains, congested tubes and shabby stations, compounded by chaotic privatisation.

Let me say frankly that the first two years of this Parliament were tough. We were right as a Government to put the public finances back into shape. The National Debt had doubled. Public sector borrowing was 28 billion pounds in the red. That required us to stick to the depressed spending limits we inherited.

But in the long term the Chancellor and I are in total agreement: poor transport is poor economics. You cannot have financial stability and economic growth with transport in decline. Good transport is key to our economic ambitions.

So, whilst the Chancellor was up on the bridge plotting the course of the economy, I was in the boiler room, sorting out the ravages of rail privatisation, sorting out the deregulated decline of the buses, sorting out a future for British shipping, sorting out the priorities of unfunded road building, sorting out a crumbling road network, sorting out the collapse on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, sorting out the mess of London transport and the Jubilee Line Extension.

The results have included:

1300 more trains a day and the highest level of rail patronage for 40 years,
more bus services and more passengers, reversing decades of decline,
a 30% increase in road maintenance,
more light railways installed, and
the Jubilee Line completed this side of the century.

That's a positive start in the right direction, and a change from decline to a growing industry.

In total, we have provided £2bn extra for public transport, local transport plans and road maintenance across the country, but this is not nearly enough. We need a quantum leap in transport investment to meet demand, which is rising faster than ever. Thanks, in large part, to the success of our economic policies, the problems of growth heaped upon decades of failures.

As the staggering projections of experts and analysts in this room now warn, road traffic could grow by 30% in the next 20 years. Congestion could rise even faster than that. Rail demand could go up by 30-50% in the next decade, as well. Take one comparison: in 1979, there were 70 cars per mile of road. In 1997 there were 100 cars per mile of road, despite what the Conservatives called the 'biggest road-building programme since the Romans'.

So, doing nothing invites disaster. It's bad for the environment, bad for health, and bad for business, with billions lost as the flow of trade seizes up. Most of all, it's bad for the driver and the passenger who face hours stuck in traffic jams, speeds in cities often slower than the horse and cart of 100 years ago, crowded commuter trains, run down stations, and buses never there when you need them.

It would mean having no answer to the angry passenger who asked me: "Why are so many journeys such a hassle?" Our task is to end that hassle, and to make sure that passengers can get from A to B safely, conveniently and speedily. I will not flinch from taking the necessary action to put this right, to make travelling in Britain a positive experience, and to improve the quality of life - which is the ultimate aim of my Department.

One of the reasons for today's troubles is that politicians have dodged the difficult decisions in the past, sacrificing long-term gain for fear of short-term unpopularity. If we fail to act, it is our children's generation that will pay for our cowardice. I think you know I am no stranger to controversy. I will not shirk the decisions others have ducked.

They say I'm an old style bruiser. But I am a moderniser on transport. It's ironic that the criticism of me has been precisely because I'm modernising and taking the difficult decisions, like on public-private partnerships or congestion charging. I will not dodge those decisions.

I will reject both those who would force the car off the road and equally those who say road building is the only answer to every transport problem. Faced with dogma, we will offer greater choice - this year, next year and every year, genuine choice for all the people means high quality public transport, and roads you can move on.

Our answer is more money and more integration - integration of road and rail, but also integration of public and private resources.

Our plan for transport has three stages. Stage one is to establish the framework – the ideas, the structures, the laws. Stage two is to put this into practice and begin to deliver. Stage three is to produce a step change in investment, capacity and quality.

First of all, we have put a lot of effort, during the past two and a half years, into getting the framework right. We have produced our White Paper and daughter documents. We are putting in place the necessary legislation. Legislation for London is already in the bag. A comprehensive Transport Bill that will introduce radical new forms of delivery:

putting the Strategic Rail Authority on a statutory basis and strengthening the Rail Regulator's powers,
giving bus operators and local councils a new legal framework to help them deliver better quality services, and
creating the new framework of Local Transport Plans.

We are also introducing radical new forms of financing through:

hypothecation of revenues from congestion charging to improve local transport,
public private partnerships, to modernise the London Underground, to build the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and to modernise air traffic control,
a major increase in PFI transport schemes,
empowering regional airports to expand commercially, and
the Chancellor's decision to ring-fence any future real increases in fuel duty for public transport and roads.

The key to better transport is to engage the best of the public sector and the private sector to invest in a better future. That means higher investment and it means effective investment, with work done to cost and on time, and according to public priority. It can't all be done through taxpayers' money, especially with the other calls on resources like health and education. Nor can it be left to mindless privatisation.

Public Private Partnership, PPP, is our key to open up future investment, and it works.

For example, under our new contract, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link is being built with public sector incentives and planning, but private sector investment and engineering. The private sector is bearing the risk of cost over-runs. They are therefore making sure it is built on time and within budget. The Docklands Light Railway to Lewisham was completed early and to budget, despite the difficulty of tunnelling under the Thames. It too is a public private partnership. Compare that with the Swanwick air traffic control centre which is five years late and the Jubilee Line Extension which was nearly two years late – and both 50% over budget.

So PPP is one distinctive feature of our policy, where the public sector does what it does best, providing services, and we get the best out of the private sector, too. PPP combines efficiency and effectiveness to provide better public transport.

The other main distinctive element is integration. Integrated transport means the convenience of the car where necessary, but combining increasingly with a public transport system upgraded to provide a real alternative. It means a door to door service whether by car or public transport or the two together, integrated information, integrated ticketing, easy interchange through transport hubs, to give passengers an integrated journey, linking mainline railways and Underground to provide seamless journeys across London.

It means considering transport solutions which span the range of possibilities, whether road, rail, aviation or shipping, connecting the growing transport hubs at airports and rail stations.

It means bringing services to people more often, rather than forcing people always to go and find the services. It also means thinking in a joined-up way, whether we are formulating economic and fiscal policy, making proposals in local government or planning new homes, shops and workplaces.

Step by step we are putting in place the policies, the structures and the resources to achieve step change - the framework, the legislation, the finance, the delivery mechanisms.

Stage two is to turn theory into practice and to begin to deliver results. To achieve this, we will use all the levers now available to us - a Strategic Rail Authority and a Rail Regulator, both with more authority and power, Local transport plans and bus quality partnerships, changes to the planning framework. We need to make the most of existing transport corridors and hubs and we need to integrate, so that cars, buses, trains and light rail work together.

Our planning guidance in PPG13, due out next year, will give priority to well designed and well conceived park-and-ride schemes. A step change in investment also has to be paid for.

Public Private Partnerships are at the heart of our transport renaissance, but money will also come from other sources. Some of it will come with a growing public transport system. More passengers means more revenue. Some of it will come from private investors, who see a good, sound business proposition. Some of it will come from new sources of funding, such as from congestion charging and from any future real increases in fuel duty which the Chancellor is now dedicating to investment in roads and public transport. Some of it will be levered in through rail franchises. Some of it will come the traditional Labour route from the public purse.

Let me leave you in no doubt, our vision means more public money for transport, whether we spend it directly or in partnership with local authorities and the private sector.

Stage three is our ten year plan for transport. If we want a step change in transport we need a step change in investment, on a scale not seen for a generation.

Today I want to lift our sights and sketch a picture of what transport in Britain could be like in 10 years time. On the railways, our aim by 2010 must be to rival the best, whether in Europe or further afield. Let's start with new and safer stations, a modernised train fleet with every train new or refurbished, renewal of all the main lines with faster, reliable and much more frequent services, new and faster tilting trains, travelling at 140 mph, cutting inter-city journey times throughout the country.

The Channel tunnel rail link will get you from Paris to London in less time than it takes today to get from London to Preston. There should be far more freight on the railway and investment on a scale not seen since the 1950s and the great changeover from steam. Yet I believe it is achievable and already we have trebled spending on rail freight grants and increased rail freight centres. Private rail investment is up by a third. Much more is in prospect as the industry looks to its franchises and its future.

In London the job is simple to state, but more difficult to achieve. It is to make a great transport system function properly again: to give cars the chance to move by reducing congestion; give a higher priority to buses and totally modernise the tube.

Next year the new London mayor will inherit a £5.5bn investment package, which includes:

the light rail crossing to Lewisham,
the new Jubilee Line Extension,
the Croydon Tramlink,
the M11 Link Road and much more.

Over the next ten years, we need bus networks across the country which are integrated with light and heavy rail. They must be underpinned with all that modern technology can offer:

synchronised traffic lights,
satellite position tracking,
smart ticketing and
comprehensive, 'real time' passenger information.

It means modern and extensive light rail systems in some of our major towns and cities. The Metrolink in Manchester shows just how successful light rail can be. Sheffield Supertram is beginning to work, through integrating with the buses. West Midlands has a new tram this year, Croydon next year, and Nottingham is on the way. But we need light rail networks which stand comparison with the best overseas.

And we must make sure that all rural communities are connected to a reliable bus service.

We have begun to get there. New bus investment has doubled. At the recent Bus Summit the industry agreed to reduce the average age of buses to eight years, equivalent to 8,500 new buses a year. At this rate we can expect the renewal of the whole fleet by the end of the decade. Through our Rural Bus Fund we are promoting 1800 extra bus services in rural areas. In Leeds, the guided bus way has seen over 50% growth in patronage and in Edinburgh Greenways bus priority routes have cut bus journey times by 25%.

I make no apology for saying that we must invest too in our road network, both nationally and locally. The car and the lorry will remain essential. We have declared our commitment to ensuring proper maintenance which is so vital if we are to get full value from the network.

We will tackle congestion bottlenecks, improving journey times and making life easier for motorists and business, with many proposals under active consideration. Over the next 7 years, 1.4 billion pounds is already set to be spent on major trunk road schemes. We will also build more bypasses, to bring relief to beleaguered communities. Information technology will enable smarter use of the roads to avoid traffic jams. Where we need to, we will put in more road capacity, but sensitively, recognising the value of our landscape, its wildlife and plants, even if costs more to do so.

Pollution from road transport grew rapidly in the 1980s. I have set my sights on reducing the effect of traffic pollution on local air quality by more than half through better designed cars and fuels. Nationally, lead in petrol has been banished to the credit of both parties in government. In Europe, car manufacturers have agreed a 25% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from new cars by 2008. Globally, we are rising to the challenge of climate change.

Pollution doesn't recognise national boundaries. Improving transport in Britain will help the global environment as well.

No country in the world has cut traffic in absolute terms whilst its economy is growing. The Commission for Integrated Transport has advised me that there should not be a national road traffic reduction target. I agree.

However we do believe that we must tackle congestion and pollution. In some towns and cities that could mean an actual reduction in traffic and may be a local target with consensus support. But there have to be alternatives to the car - better public transport in place, before we can bring in any schemes for congestion charges. That is why we are concentrating so hard on improving public transport first.

I have a clear view of what town or city transport might look like in 10 years time. It would have trains, buses and rapid transit systems that are so efficient that fewer people feel the need to drive into city centres. People would park and ride without hassle and leave their cars in safe car parks on the edge of town or at train stations. Stations and trains would be designed so that nobody - men or women – need fear for their security. There would be a new generation of clean and comfortable buses. 'Countdown' electronic information would tell them at bus stops when the next bus is due. The air would be cleaner. Town centres would be safer to walk or cycle in. They would be good for people and for business, but not blighted by traffic, in short places where transport does not overwhelm citizens but is designed for their benefit.

I want to see a living, working countryside that isn't overrun by traffic and where people do not feel isolated. Our rural bus fund has revived 1800 extra bus services. But we also want to encourage innovation – taxi buses, post buses, dial a ride, car-sharing, community transport and taxi connections to buses.

We want to see a healthy freight sector delivering the goods to industry and the public, by road, by rail, by air and by water. The bulk of our goods go by road, so we are committed to a competitive, thriving road transport sector.

But in the end, the biggest test of our policy is the experience of passengers. This is where we must be most ambitious.

I want a transport system where integration means convenience. Integration means a single ticket, convenient connections, comfortable journeys guaranteed to deliver you there. Just as NHS Direct is transforming the NHS, a single phone line - Transport Direct, if you like – from next year will help you to plan your route anywhere in the country, with all the connections.

I see no reason why you should not in the future be able to buy a single ticket on the phone, allowing you to go long distance, door-to-door, with a cab picking you up at home and taking you to the train, and another cab or bus taking you right to the door at the other end.

That service should also be available on the Internet giving you the chance to buy your ticket and plan your journey at the home or the office. New technology, modern transport will offer a brand new service for passengers.

It's an opportunity and a challenge for rail and bus operators, for travel agents, for cab companies and for the public and private sectors working together.

We are also requiring all new public transport to be accessible for disabled people. By meeting the needs of disabled people we make it easier for everyone to use. Passengers also want the highest levels of safety. Despite the chilling tragedies of Southall and Ladbroke Grove Britain's record on transport safety compares with the best in the world. We are determined to make it better still and I believe the action we have taken will do that. Lord Cullen's careful rail safety review will, I hope, yield benefits for many years to come, as will our reviews of road, river and aviation safety.

Deaths on the road have halved over the last 20 years. Safety is being built in. But we can do better. There has been some speculation that the government will not set a safety target. But I can confirm today that in the New Year I will be announcing a new road safety strategy with challenging targets, which will save thousands of lives over the next 10 years.

Step by step I am determined to deliver this programme. We see technology as an ally – making transport safer, cleaner, smarter. But this isn't science fiction. It's already happening.

Manchester for example is one of the most forward looking cities for integrating light rail, bus, train and car – the first city to be designated a Centre of Excellence. This week we will take another big step towards more integration and more convenience, throughout the country. Local councils have produced local transport plans. I will be allocating 750 million pounds to help put them into action. We shall be announcing the details later this week.

Schemes supported will include new bypasses, bus priority measures and innovative integration projects, to reduce congestion, improve public transport and offer greater choice and reliability.

In addition today I can announce the firm go-ahead for extension of the Tyne and Wear metro to Sunderland - a one hundred million pound confidence booster for light rail and the North East region.

To deliver our long-term vision we need a long term plan. Billions of pounds of public and private money will be invested in transport in the next 10 years, but even that would clearly not be enough.

This is not said lightly. The Chancellor and I have agreed, with the Prime Minister, the need for an ambitious, long term approach to future investment in transport. Gus Macdonald, my Minister for Transport, will be looking in detail at where to do the work and how to raise the resources to put our great transport project on track to keep Britain moving.

So the challenge we face is enormous, but in the last 2 years we have made a start. The building blocks are now in place: the vision in our Transport White Paper, radical legislation now before Parliament, new forms of finance, including public private partnerships and hypothecation - something no British Government has done before.

We have new delivery mechanisms, such as the Strategic Rail Authority and Local Transport Plans. That's what I call putting in the footings for the changes we need to make.

On those foundations we are building the 10 year plan I am announcing today. That doesn't mean waiting 10 years for something to happen. It means improvements year by year towards our goal. And our goal is quite clear: to give Britain a transport system to rival the best in Europe.

So Gus Macdonald will work on the ten-year programme. By next summer, once the spending review is complete, we will publish a comprehensive programme for change, mapping out an investment programme through to 2010. It will be a ten year routemap for a transport system fit for the next century, with milestones along the way.

But we all know the Government cannot achieve all that needs to be done to transform our transport system on its own. That will require a genuine commitment from everyone here today. It will require a more intelligent debate. That's why we set up the Commission for Integrated Transport. That's why they set up a Motorists' Forum.

It has often been the role of Labour Governments to modernise the vital infrastructure of this country. That is what we will be doing again with our ten-year programme. We can only do that because of the strong, stable economic growth our policies have helped to achieve, because of our new delivery mechanisms and disciplines, because of our willingness to embrace new forms of public and private investment, and because we are prepared to take the difficult long-term decisions which politicians have ducked for decades.

This will be by far the biggest transport package, combining public and private investment, ever seen in Britain. The people of Britain expect and deserve it, and I hope I can count on your support to fully shape and deliver it.

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Railhub Archive ::: 1999-12-13 DET-001


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