After signing the initial agreement to form a coalition government on 12th May, The Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties presented the full coalition agreement on 20th May last. With regard to transport it is laid out thus:The Government believes that a modern transport infrastructure is essential for a dynamic and entrepreneurial economy, as well as to improve well-being and quality of life. We need to make the transport sector greener and more sustainable, with tougher emission standards and support for new transport technologies.
• We will mandate a national recharging network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
• We will grant longer rail franchises in order to give operators the incentive to invest in the improvements passengers want – like better services, better stations, longer trains and better rolling stock.
• We will reform the way decisions are made on which transport projects to prioritise, so that the benefits of low carbon proposals (including light rail schemes) are fully recognised.
• We will make Network Rail more accountable to its customers.
• We will establish a high speed rail network as part of our programme of measures to fulfil our joint ambitions for creating a low carbon economy. Our vision is of a truly national high speed rail network for the whole of Britain. Given financial constraints, we will have to achieve this in phases.
• We support Crossrail and further electrification of the rail network.
• We will turn the rail regulator into a powerful passenger champion.
• We will support sustainable travel initiatives, including the promotion of cycling and walking, and will encourage joint working between bus operators and local authorities.
• We are committed to fair pricing for rail travel.
• We will work towards the introduction of a new system of HGV road user charging to ensure a fairer arrangement for UK hauliers.
• We will stop central government funding for new fixed speed cameras and switch to more effective ways of making our roads safer, including authorising ‘drugalyser’ technology.
• We will tackle rogue private sector wheel clampers.
Most of this sounds like waffle, unfortunately. However, there are two points which do stand out and should be benchmarks to see what the coalition does at least.
These are the national network for recharging electric and hybrid vehicles. While the other is the confirmation of the Crossrail scheme together with the other electrification schemes already proposed.
The most important points left unstated are the LibDem promise to reopen closed branch lines - that has conveniently been forgotten. The other point is the extension of High Speed Rail lines, where their is only a vague recognition that a national strategy should be thought out which can only be brought in little by little according to the level of finance available.
Quite frankly this is not much of a programme but admitedly reflects the austere times in which it is drawn up.