Coalition outlines transport policies

Plans for a high-speed rail network will go ahead under the new coalition government in Britain, but there will be no third runway at Heathrow airport.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have published a seven-page document outlining the initial agreements they have reached in order to be able to work together in government. A final coalition agreement covering the full range of policy is to follow "in due course".

Under the heading of 'environment', the two parties say they will implement measures to establish a high-speed rail network, cancel the third runway at Heathrow and refuse additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted.

They will also mandate a national recharging network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Furthermore, Air Passenger Duty is to be replaced with a per-flight duty. If this leads to increased government revenue over time, a proportion will be used to help fund increases in the threshold at which income tax becomes payable.

 

Philip Hammond has been appointed Secretary of State for Transport. An MP since 1997, Mr Hammond previously followed a business career in small and medium-sized companies in manufacturing, consultancy, property and construction and oil and gas, both in the UK and abroad. His most recent political post was as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

The Freight Transport Association said it welcomed the appointment of an MP "with first-hand business experience and a focus on economic stability." Theo de Pencier, FTA chief executive, said: "We look forward to working with Mr Hammond on those pressing challenges facing the industry right now, from investment in infrastructure to finding workable carbon solutions and creating more capacity across all modes of transport".

With the government committed to reducing public spending, the Campaign for Better Transport said it had written to Mr Hammond to warn against 'salami slicing' cuts across all budgets at the Department for Transport.

Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport executive director, said: "We welcome the new Government's focus on reducing carbon from transport, and its scrapping the third runway at Heathrow. But more tough decisions are needed. We must scale back the bloated road building budget, and ensure that spending focuses on meeting our future transport needs.

"The worst result would be to apply uniform cuts to all transport budgets, which could mean major increases in train fares, or bus funding cuts that could decimate local bus services," he said.

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