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25 June 2003

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Government not able to tackle transport problems



Company directors in Cambridgeshire today welcomed a survey published by the Institute of Directors (IoD) which highlights the concerns of many businesses with government transport policy.

Despite the government's huge parliamentary majority the survey exposes a lack of faith in Labour's ability to tackle major transport problems.

Locally, members of the IoD's Eastern Branch - which represents more than 1,000 company directors across Cambridgeshire - expressed particular concern about problems on the A14 and on the East Coast main line service through Peterborough to Kings Cross, as well as about traffic congestion in Cambridge.

The IoD found that 70 per cent of those surveyed believe that part of the solution to road congestion is the construction of extra road capacity. The policy option advanced by the IoD - more roads and road pricing/congestion charging - received strong support from the membership. Of those surveyed, 73 per cent felt this would improve or significantly improve congestion over the next decade.

IoD members also believe that part of the solution to the rail crisis is road pricing. Almost 70 per cent of members believe road pricing could move passenger traffic from road to rail and about the same number believe the same is true of freight transport.

The survey revealed concern about the future consequences of the government' s treatment of Railtrack. Almost 80 per cent of IoD members believe that this will reduce the amount of private investment in the railways.

Stephanie Smye, chairman of the IoD's Eastern Branch, said: "We have the world's fourth largest economy but we do not have an adequate transport system to match. Our members want to see the government use its huge parliamentary majority in order to take the tough political decisions that are required.

"One of those decisions - unpalatable as it may be - will probably have to be the introduction of road pricing or congestion charging.

"We cannot go on building more and more roads and we cannot get more and more traffic onto the existing roads. We need to do something to encourage traffic off the roads and onto the railways and to encourage the spreading of journey times so that not everyone is trying to use the roads at the same time.

"Our members, though, doubt that the government will have the courage to take the tough decisions that are needed. It is simply not able to tackle this problem."

July 2002

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