Darling reiterates commitment to ten-year transport plan

16 Jan 03
The government remains fully committed to its ten-year transport investment plan of £180bn, Transport Secretary Alistair Darling insisted this week.

17 January 2003

But it will demand much tighter cost controls on contractors who, he said, 'think they can charge more because we're putting the extra money in, or whose contracts over-run'.

His comments were made at a symposium, Building World Class Transport Services, organised by Unison on January 15. The scale of problems, such as the state of rail tracks and levels of congestion, were far more apparent now than when the ten-year plan was drawn up, he admitted: 'Plus, we have a legacy problem from the last few years of privatisation.'

Network Rail this week took back direct control of track maintenance from the financially troubled contractor Amey. However, the transport secretary rejected the suggestion that there was a contradiction between this decision and awarding a 30-year contract to run London Underground to a private consortium that includes Amey. 'Our contract is with the consortium, not the company,' he said. 'There are much tighter controls than there have been for rail maintenance.'

On congestion charging for London, Darling said that 'in principle it's one of a number of measures the government approves. But the devil will be in the detail of getting the technology right'.

He called for a 'cultural revolution' in transport, which puts the needs of customers above those of producers. Local authorities should not raid transport budgets to solve other problems, he said, while bus usage needed to be encouraged more widely.


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