A new deal for transport: better for everyone - white paper
Chapter 3 - Integrated Transport
'Developing an integrated transport policy represents a major shift in direction. We don't just want to stop traffic problems getting worse, we actually want to make things better for people and goods on the move'
John Prescott 1997
Making it easier to walk
Making it easier to walk: an artist's impression of a pedestrianised Trafalgar Square.
We are all pedestrians, even if we own a car. Nearly all journeys involve a walk and walking is still the main way of getting about locally. But all too often the things that make walking a more pleasant experience have not been given proper attention, as can be seen in the way road space and priority is so often biased against pedestrians. Too often pedestrians are treated like trespassers in their own towns. We want streets that are decent and attractive to walk in.
Too many of us have given up walking short distances in favour of using the car. We need to reverse that trend for the sake of our own and others' health, and for good environmental reasons.
Our New Deal for transport will make walking a more viable, attractive and safe option. Strategies to make it easier to get around locally by walking will be included in the local transport plans that we will introduce (see Chapter 4).
Reflecting our proposals for 'streets for people' that we describe later in this Chapter, we will expect local authorities to give more priority to walking by:
- reallocating road space to pedestrians, for example through wider pavements and pedestrianisation;
- providing more direct and convenient routes for walking;
- improving footpath maintenance and cleanliness;
- providing more pedestrian crossings, where pedestrians want to cross;
- reducing waiting times for pedestrians at traffic signals and giving them priority in the allocation of time at junctions where this supports more walking;
- dealing with those characteristics of traffic that deter people from walking;
- introducing traffic calming measures near schools, in 'home zones' and in selected country lanes;
- using their planning powers to ensure that the land use mix, layout and design of development is safe, attractive and convenient for walking.
Better for pedestrians
- pedestrians in Birmingham's Bull Ring shopping centre will no longer get second class treatment;
- the Bull Ring redevelopment gives better pedestrian links with the City's main shopping streets, has a new public square and gets rid of the warren of underground subways which people were forced to use previously.
We are working closely with local government and a wide range of organisations to prepare a strategy1 that will provide a framework for action. In addition to supporting and developing this strategy, we will revise existing advice and work with local authorities and others in improving the environment for walking.
We will also encourage local authorities to introduce facilities which make it easier and safer for disabled and elderly people to move about. This will include pedestrian crossings that are fully accessible to all, including people in wheelchairs, and incorporate tactile features and audible signals to help blind and partially sighted people.
We have already made a start in promoting walking, and cycling, as healthy modes of transport through the 'Active for Life' physical activity campaign run by the Health Education Authority.
Safer routes to school
- the Myton cycleway makes it possible for the first time to cross the River Avon between Leamington and Warwick by cycle and on foot;
- it links major housing areas on one side of the river with three large schools on the opposite bank;
- benefits include less traffic at school times, reduced emissions and better longer term health of students and residents.
1. being prepared by a steering group which comprises representatives of local and central government and a wide range of organisations and individuals.
Making it easier to cycle
National Cycle Network
The National Cycling Strategy (NCS) published in 1996 highlighted the potential of cycling as a flexible, relatively cheap and environmentally friendly way to travel with important health benefits for people of all ages. We agree. Cycling, however, has been in decline nationally, even though more cycles are owned than ever (and annual sales of bicycles outstrip the number of new cars sold). But this doesn't have to be the case if we make it easier and safer to cycle:
- in Munich, cycle use rose from 6% of all trips in 1976 to 15% in 1992;
- in Hanover, cycling has increased from 9% in 1976 to 16% in 1990;
- in York in recent years about 20% of commuting has been by bike.
The NCS encourages local authorities and others to establish local targets for increased cycle use. A number have already done so and we expect targets to become more widespread as local strategies for cycling evolve. The NCS has established a national target of doubling the amount of cycling within six years (against a base year of 1996) and of doubling it again by the year 2012. We endorse this target. A National Cycling Forum2 has been established to oversee its implementation.
Adapting existing road space for cyclists (Reading).
To support the NCS, we are continuing to research innovative measures to improve the safety and convenience of cycling and will publish advice on good practice. We want to see better provision for cyclists at their destinations, at interchanges, in the design of junctions and in the way road space is allocated. In particular, we are looking to local authorities to:
- establish a local strategy for cycling as part of their local transport plans;
- institute 'cycle reviews' of the road system and 'cycle audits' of proposed traffic schemes;
- adapt existing road space to provide more cycle facilities;
- make changes to traffic signalled junctions and roundabouts in favour of cyclists, giving them priority where this supports cycling;
- apply speed restraint more widely to support their cycling strategies and provide for cyclists when applying speed restraint measures;
- increase provision of secure parking for cycles;
- maintain cycle lanes adequately to avoid hazards to cyclists;
- use their planning powers to promote cycling through influencing the land use mix, layout and design of development and through the provision of cycle facilities.
Concern about road safety is a major reason for people not using their bikes for everyday journeys. Parents in particular see the dangers for their children of cycling on roads. In many areas radical changes are needed to create safer cycling conditions. Cycling promotion policies therefore need to mesh with those on road safety. Safety should be an additional incentive for action, not a reason for delaying priority measures for cyclists.
We will continue to help with the development of the National Cycle Network being co-ordinated by the transport charity Sustrans. The network will be a linked series of traffic-free paths and traffic-calmed roads providing some 8,000 miles of safe and attractive routes by 2005. By opening up opportunities for people to cycle more, the network will help to create a culture that welcomes cycling as an activity. 2. the Forum comprises representatives from a range of organisations across the UK including central and local government, business and the voluntary sector.
More and better buses
Buses are already the workhorses of the public transport system and in many parts of the country they are the only form of public transport. Increasingly they will become the focus of an efficient transport system that gets people to where they want to be quickly and comfortably, without having to rely on cars.
But people will not switch from the comfort of their cars to buses that are old, dirty, unreliable and slow. Too often buses have been treated and seen as 'second class' transport. It doesn't have to be like this and is certainly not the case in many other European countries.
As part of the New Deal for transport we want better buses - clean, comfortable and convenient. Bus lanes and other priority measures will help to get buses running on time. A first-rate and modern bus industry will make an important and cost-effective contribution to tackling congestion and pollution at the local level. By giving buses greater priority and improving information and networks, we can encourage more people to use buses. Increasing passenger numbers could transform the economics of bus operations, opening new horizons in quality, reliability and network expansion.
Quality Partnerships have been developed in a number of towns and cities, eg in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Brighton, Edinburgh, Ipswich, Leeds and Swansea. They:
- include features such as new, higher quality and more accessible buses;
- have increased patronage by 10-20% and by up to 40% with bus segregation and substantial improvements in infrastructure;
- carry new passengers who previously used cars and taxis as well as those who walked.
Quality Partnerships can also be successful in rural areas, eg in Pwllheli, North Wales, where:
- a quality bus network has been maintained and patronage has remained buoyant thanks to Gwynedd Council working closely with bus operators, many of them small local firms;
- bus subsidy support has been combined with payments for school children's tickets (schools transport under the Education Act) and has prompted better services from operators including investment in new vehicles.
The most significant improvements in bus services recently have been achieved through co-operation between local authorities and operators under 'Quality Partnerships'. In these partnerships, the local authority provides traffic management schemes which assist bus services (bus lanes, priority at junctions, park and ride). The bus operator offers better quality (in terms of comfort, 'greenness,' accessibility and staff training), improved marketing, better integration and more reliable services.
Putting buses first: bus priority lane in Edinburgh.
Quality Partnerships work but they need to be more widespread and put on a firm footing. We will therefore introduce legislation to put these partnerships on a statutory basis. This will enable local authorities to require operators to meet certain standards of service quality in order to use the facilities provided by the local authority as part of the Quality Partnership. This will give local authorities greater influence over the provision of bus services and their marketing, and will enable them to encourage the provision of easy access buses.
Quality Partnerships should be for rural as well as urban areas, although a rural Quality Partnership might well look different. It might feature improved bus stops and information as well as higher quality vehicles, rather than traffic management. We have already made significant strides in improving bus services in the countryside and more Quality Partnerships will help. We set out our proposals for rural bus services in Chapter 4.
We will clarify local authorities' powers to buy in extra services to boost frequencies on a particular route or corridor. This will help to make bus use more attractive, particularly to those who would otherwise use cars.
In some circumstances, strengthened Quality Partnerships may not be sufficient to guarantee the necessary improvements. We will therefore introduce primary legislation to give powers to local authorities, where it is in the public interest, to enter into Quality Contracts for bus services. Quality Contracts would mark a real change from the present and would involve operators bidding for exclusive rights to run bus services on a route or group of routes, on the basis of a local authority service specification and performance targets. We will apply the experience from the best value approach to contracting which we are introducing to improve the quality and efficiency of services in local government. Quality Contracts will be subject to Ministerial consent for each local authority that wished to adopt such an approach (and following devolution, the consent of the National Assembly for Wales or the Scottish Executive).
The circumstances in which Quality Contracts might be considered will be the subject of national guidance, drawn up in consultation with local government. Initially, a small number of pilots could be used to demonstrate the contribution of Quality Contracts to developing bus networks and responding to what the passenger wants.
Putting buses first
The Leeds 'guided bus':
- quicker journeys in the morning peak;
- passengers think the service has improved;
- new and increased patronage.
'Greenways' in Edinburgh:
- in the first six months of operation average bus journey times cut by 25% on the all-day Leith Greenway and by 10% on the peak hour Corstorphine route;
- an additional 250,000 passengers travelled on Lothian Region Transport buses running on the Corstorphine and Leith Walk Greenways.
Listening to the passenger is an important part of the New Deal for transport. We therefore welcome the recent initiative by the Confederation of Passenger Transport to establish an independent Bus Appeals Body to handle bus passenger complaints outside London not resolved direct with operators. In London, this task falls to the London Regional Passengers' Committee.
We want a wider role for the Traffic Commissioners in strengthening the passenger voice. The Traffic Commissioners have an important independent oversight of the bus registration system and in licensing operators as fit and proper persons to operate bus services. We are considering with the Traffic Commissioners how best their role might be enhanced in delivering integrated transport.
Innovation is an important part of providing better bus services. For example, the use of smaller buses has become increasingly common. They can get to places where the traditional double-deckers would be inappropriate; they can provide more frequent services; and they can exploit niche markets that only require small buses. Taxis can also act as small buses although the use of the powers in the 1985 Transport Act has been disappointingly low. Local authorities will need to assess the potential for smaller buses and taxi buses, particularly in rural areas, when preparing their local transport plans.
Making a difference for the public transport passenger
- more and better buses and trains, with staff trained in customer care
- new Strategic Rail Authority to:
- promote better integration and interchange
- promote better integration and interchange
- new passenger dividends from passenger railway companies, including more effective penalties to improve reliability and punctuality
- tougher rail regulation to serve the public interest:
- ensuring that the private sector honours its commitments to deliver a modern and efficient railway
- a stronger voice for the passenger
- better information, before and when travelling; including a national public transport information system by 2000
- better interchanges and better connections
- enhanced networks with simplified fares and better marketing, including more through-ticketing and travelcards
- more reliable buses through priority measures and reduced congestion
- cash boost for rural transport
- half price fares or lower, for elderly people on buses
- improved personal security when travelling
- easy-access public transport - helping disabled and elderly people, and making it easier for everyone to use
We have also seen innovation in the structure of bus fares. For example, Magicbuses in Manchester have cheaper fares but are less luxurious than other buses on the same routes. Magicbus fares are typically 20% cheaper than alternative services. Results show that some passengers wait for a Magicbus, letting the better quality bus go. Others let the Magicbus go and prefer a better quality bus. Our proposals on fares are explained in Chapter 4.
A better railway
With the New Deal for transport there is the potential for a railway renaissance. But this will not be possible with the weaknesses arising from the fragmentation of the rail industry. We will therefore establish a national Strategic Rail Authority for Great Britain, to provide a clear, coherent and strategic programme for the development of our railways. This proposal is explained in Chapter 4, together with our new approach to franchising and investment in rail.
Better for passengers
Passenger rail services in Great Britain are provided by 25 franchised train operating companies, owned by 12 different franchisees, four of whom are also major operators of bus services. Recent performance of the privatised railway has not been good. But there is clearly scope for increased use of the passenger railway. The franchise bids of the train operating companies forecast demand growth of nearly 25% in terms of passenger mileage by 2002/03 with the strongest growth in the inter-city market.
In 1997 we revised the objectives of the Franchising Director to put the passenger first. We welcome the steps now being taken by some operators to put more emphasis on passengers' needs and increased service frequencies, especially where this reduces overcrowding and encourages new passengers. The benefits of our new approach are already beginning to show. For example, the 'passenger dividend' from Thames Trains includes station improvements, a new Oxford-Bristol service and new bus/rail and bike/rail integration.
Faster journey times can encourage greater use. That is why we welcome improvements such as the modernisation of the West Coast Main Line. Together with the up-grading there is the commitment to allow for faster, tilting trains, to which the Virgin Rail Group is guaranteeing substantial investment. Such improvement programmes can produce greater reliability and shorter journey times, thereby making rail a more attractive transport option.
- LTS has offered 25% off the weekly peak time ticket price on "Early Bird" trains from selected stations between Southend and London. Fares have been reduced for passengers travelling between 6.30am and 7am - encouraging commuters to switch from their cars when there is the capacity to carry them quickly and comfortably into the City;
- Chiltern Railways has an easy payment plan that spreads the cost of an annual season ticket over ten monthly direct debit payments.
The ability of the railway to cope with the increase in passenger demand that we wish to see will depend in part on the pace of infrastructure works and rolling stock improvements. Some inter-city routes can increase rail capacity substantially at relatively short notice and at moderate cost, using longer trains and platforms, more trains and improved signalling. Other operators are constrained by infrastructure pinch-points that are already operating at or close to capacity.
Railtrack has recently identified 15 key bottlenecks on the rail network, together with possible solutions, in its 1998 Network Management Statement (see map at Annex F). Railtrack is evaluating these pinch-points and estimates that its programme for solving these congestion problems could be complete by 2006. We welcome the Rail Regulator's examination of Railtrack's Statement against the obligations in its licence. In particular, he is investigating the sufficiency of:
- Railtrack's commitments to improved day-to-day performance of passenger and freight services;
- committed plans to deal with bottlenecks on the network;
- committed projects to renew and develop the network;
- committed plans to meet the requirements of freight.
More rail freight
We can move more freight by rail, relieving pressure on the road network and bringing environmental benefits. The main rail freight operator, English, Welsh and Scottish Railway (EWS), has an aspirational target of doubling its traffic measured by tonne-kilometres over five years and tripling it over ten. Freightliner, which specialises in the haulage of containers between deep sea ports and inland terminals, aims to increase the volume of containers carried by 50% over five years.
We endorse these targets. Overall, reaching them could mean that in 2010 the share of freight going by road3 was 10% lower than is currently forecast. For every percentage point reduction in road freight that is achieved some 1,000 to 2,000 heavy lorries could be taken off our roads. But we also wish to see improvements to the passenger railway, which must be balanced against the needs of freight customers. We will therefore ask the Strategic Rail Authority to develop targets for both the freight and passenger railway in order that we secure the maximum benefit overall from our rail network. In the meantime, we will continue to work towards our objective of moving more freight by rail and towards the targets set by the industry.
Rail freight starting to grow
- 277,000 tonnes of steel products switching from road to rail, with up to an additional five trains per week from Llanwern in south Wales to Wolverhampton Steel Terminal;
- tenfold increase in wagonload business (Enterprise service) between 1994 and 1997. New 75 mph Anglo-Scottish service five days a week;
- new flows of palletised goods for supermarket and chemist chain stores;
- new traffic within the last year from ports such as Workington, Boston, Ipswich, Goole, Immingham and Hull;
- operators and local authorities discussing potential traffic involving ports such as Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Kings Lynn.
Rail freight: containers on the move at Felixstowe.
We have already made a start on helping to create the right conditions for the revival of rail freight. We have more than doubled expenditure on freight grants. We have negotiated with the French Government and Eurotunnel arrangements to ease access of rail freight through the Channel Tunnel and beyond. Our concordat with the Rail Regulator emphasises the importance of promoting rail freight; the Regulator has secured the creation of extra rail freight capacity on the West Coast Main Line as part of his consideration of plans for a major passenger upgrade. Looking ahead, the Strategic Rail Authority will ensure that freight is given proper consideration in the operation and planning of the network; and to the obstacles to growth, as highlighted by EWS in its evidence to the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee4, and which include loading gauge, track capacity constraints, and access to additional land.
We will issue revised planning guidance (see Chapter 4) to facilitate more freight to be moved by rail. Local authorities in preparing development plans will be expected to consider, and where appropriate protect, opportunities for rail connections to existing manufacturing, distribution and warehousing sites adjacent or close to the rail network and allocate sites for suitable new developments which can be served by rail.
Better local railways
In drawing up local transport plans, local authorities will take account of the potential contribution of rail (both conventional and light rail) to their strategies for reducing car use. The potential is likely to vary significantly between different types of authority and whether they serve urban or rural areas.
Light rail, and similar rapid transit systems, can have a role to play in delivering integrated transport in urban areas - particularly if planned as part of an overall strategy. The capital costs of light rail systems are, however, high - particularly in comparison to bus priority measures and more modest guided bus schemes which may offer a more cost-effective alternative.
Greater Manchester Metrolink
- runs mainly along an old heavy rail corridor replacing two heavy rail services (Altrincham to Manchester Piccadilly and Bury to Manchester Victoria) providing a rail link into and through the city centre;
- at a cost of £150 million (around one third of which would have been required to keep existing rail lines open), it carries 14 million passengers a year;
- passenger numbers are up on the old heavy rail and there is clear evidence of some switch from car use;
- Metrolink, owned by the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive was built under a Design Build Operate Maintain contract. Altram (Manchester) Ltd, a private sector consortium operates the system and will operate the extension to Salford Quays and Eccles due to open by the end of 2000.
In due course, we shall expect local authorities wishing to develop light rail systems, to use revenues from new congestion charging schemes or parking levies as a source of funding for such systems (see Chapter 4). In the meantime we believe that resources available for funding local authority capital expenditure on transport can, in general, be used more productively supporting packages of more modest measures which spread benefits more widely. Funding for new major light rail schemes will therefore not be a priority and schemes will be supported only if they represent good value for money and form an integral and necessary part of a strategy in a local transport plan - demonstrating clearly that the objectives of the plan cannot be met in alternative ways. We would also expect local authorities to develop public-private partnerships to take forward such schemes wherever it is sensible to do so.
Women and Transport
Women's transport needs are often different. Although they make about the same number of journeys on average as men, these are shorter and they walk and use public transport, especially buses, more. Men are more likely to have first call on the car in a one car household. Many women have concerns about their personal security, particularly when on their own and at night.
Our New Deal for transport will mean for women:
- greater emphasis on integrated transport, including more accessible buses, better information and safer interchanges;
- safer public transport, including the Secure Stations Scheme;
- improving the quality of the pedestrian environment, eg making it easier for women with children in prams to get about;
- land use policies to encourage local services, reducing the need to travel by car;
- women's transport needs to be assessed in local transport plans and through auditing transport initiatives;
- safer routes to school initiatives;
- Commission for Integrated Transport to take full account of women's transport needs.
3 measured in tonne-kilometres
4. Third Report of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, House of Commons Session 1997-98, on the proposed Strategic Rail Authority and Rail Regulation, HoC paper 286-1, March 1998
Better for the motorist
The New Deal for transport gives people more choice about when and where to use their car. We want to ensure the alternatives are real and attractive. Our new approach is about widening choice, not forcing people out of their cars when using a car is their preferred option. Our transport system does not always serve the motorist well, as has been underlined by motorists' organisations in their responses to our consultation. This is why we are introducing a New Deal for the motorist. The New Deal includes more reliable journeys from better maintained roads, improved management of the network and a targeted programme of investment.
We want to see more opportunities for cars to be used as part of an integrated transport system. We are therefore encouraging park and ride facilities to town centres to help beat congestion and at railway stations to make for easier long-distance travel.
We are extending choice to all users of transport. Our proposals for sustainable distribution, described later in this Chapter, will provide greater choice for moving freight, to promote a more efficient industry and a better environment. There will be new opportunities for distribution in town and city centres, as vehicles become quieter and cleaner. Quality Partnerships for freight will produce local solutions to local problems. We will promote the role of rail freight, inland waterways and coastal shipping in the movement of goods, providing a real alternative to moving freight by road.
Getting to the airport
We set out later in this Chapter how the New Deal for transport will make it easier to get to airports by public transport. People should not have to use their car for journeys when they don't want to.
We want to see more choice for passengers in a way that improves the environment. Our proposals to encourage international access to regional airports will reduce reliance on the London airports, cut the length of surface journeys and increase convenience for the passenger.
The role of motorcycling
Mopeds and motorcycles can provide an alternative means of transport for many trips. Where public transport is limited and walking unrealistic, for example in rural areas, motorcycling can provide an affordable alternative to the car, bring benefits to the individual and widen their employment opportunities.
Whether there are benefits for the environment and for congestion from motorcycling depends on the purpose of the journey, the size of motorcycle used and the type of transport that the rider has switched from. Mopeds and small motorcycles may produce benefits if they substitute for car use but not if people switch from walking, cycling or public transport.
The role of motorcycling in an integrated transport policy raises some important and complex issues. We are therefore setting up an advisory group to bring together motorcycle interests and other interested parties. This will allow discussion of issues of concern to those who ride motorcycles and of the ways we can work together on policies, including encouraging further improvements in the safety and environmental impact of motorcycling.
In drawing up their local transport plans, local authorities should take account of the contribution that motorcycling can make and consider specific measures to assist motorcyclists, such as secure parking at public transport interchange sites. We would welcome proposals from local authorities interested in conducting properly monitored pilot studies of the use of bus lanes by motorcycles, to help inform decisions on whether there is a case for motorcyclists to be allowed to use bus lanes.
More integrated public transport
In pursuit of the seamless journey
For public transport to provide an attractive alternative to the convenience of a car, it must operate as a network. With the New Deal for transport there will be:
- more through-ticketing;
- better facilities at stations and other places for interchange;
- better connections between and co-ordination of services;
- wider availability and provision of information on timetables, route planning and fares;
- a national public transport information system by 2000, available over the telephone, internet etc.
In preparing their local transport plans local authorities will be required to address these matters. For the most part, improvements can be gained through the co-operation of public transport providers and through effective partnerships with local authorities. But, where necessary, we will strengthen local authorities' powers to secure integration.
The integrated transport system that we want can already be seen in other parts of Europe; for example:
- fares and ticketing - in the Netherlands, 'strippenkaart' tickets allow passengers to make a fixed number of journeys in different Dutch cities using any type of public transport;
- interconnecting services - in Hanover and Stuttgart, evening passengers can ask their tram driver to radio ahead for a taxi to meet them at their destination stop. The cost is included in the tram fare as a flat-rate add-on;
- passenger information - since May 1992 passengers in the Netherlands have been able to ring a single national telephone number for full door-to-door timetable, fares and other information;
- interchange facilities - vandal-proof lockers for cycle storage are provided at stations in the Netherlands. Local buses in Basle and Tubingen carry bikes on special racks or platforms.
Fares and ticketing
Tickets which are easy to get, offer value for money, flexibility and make changing easy can encourage more people to use public transport
Rail operators are required to offer through-ticketing for all rail journeys. There have been some problems but the requirement is closely monitored by the Rail Regulator. There are no equivalent obligations on bus operators. We welcome the positive action taken by some companies to accept other operators' tickets or participate in area ticketing schemes, but more needs to be done. We also welcome the increasing number of operators who are starting to introduce initiatives such as rail-bus tickets. We will encourage their wider use. We want to see more 'travelcard' schemes across the country.
Local authorities when preparing their local transport plans should consider the arrangements for through-ticketing and travelcards. We will publish guidance on good practice and ensure that the necessary powers are available locally to require operators to promote and participate in joint-ticketing/travelcard schemes.
- one of the best examples in Britain of a successful area ticket scheme;
- provides unlimited pre-paid travel within specified zones on bus, rail, underground and Docklands Light Railway services throughout the capital;
- London Transport estimates that introducing the Travelcard increased bus passenger miles by one fifth with underground use going up by one third.
The structure of bus fares outside London can be very complex. This can add to the time buses spend at stops whilst fares are collected. Unnecessary delay at stops makes buses less attractive and adds to congestion. Passengers who are forced to change buses in the course of their journey usually have to pay twice and pay more than they would if the journey had been made on one bus.
Our proposals to provide local powers to ensure that bus operators participate in multi-operator ticketing schemes will go part of the way to resolving these problems. But we are also looking to the bus industry to introduce simpler fare structures and through-ticketing, where necessary in co-operation with local authorities.
Technology can help to provide better ticketing arrangements. The most should be made of smartcards. We are reviewing the capabilities of technology with key players in the industry, both to identify the potential benefits for integrating journeys and to see what role Government should play to help bring forward viable applications.
Integration through technology
- CONCERT research project, supported by the European Commission, is piloting integrated payment systems using smartcards for parking fees, bus and rail fares, and in some cases road tolls;
- pilots in Marseilles, Bristol, Bologna, Dublin, Barcelona and Trondheim.
We will encourage all bus and rail operators to offer carnets (batches of single rail or bus tickets bought at discounted rates) as part of their ticketing range. They can be a flexible alternative to season tickets for part-time workers, and useful for the occasional traveller.
Many journeys include an interchange, from the relatively straightforward change of buses at a bus stop to major rail stations and airports where several ways of travelling come together. Quick and easy interchange is essential for public transport to compete with the convenience of car use, which is why we will expect local authorities' local transport plans to consider interchange facilities. These audits will assess the adequacy of existing facilities against the key attributes of good interchange:
- reliable/punctual and frequent services to produce minimal waiting times;
- short walking distances and clear directional signs;
- good timetable displays;
- staff availability;
- well maintained infrastructure, including public conveniences and baby changing facilities;
- good personal security;
Good practice for interchange
- Sheffield, Leeds and Laganside in Belfast are examples of high quality bus stations that have been opened in recent years. They have smart and clean waiting facilities, with electronic passenger information systems, travel enquiry centres, retail outlets and security arrangements;
- cycle lockers to provide secure and weatherproof storage are being introduced at Ipswich railway station and stations in the West Yorkshire PTA area. Some operators, including Anglia Railways are installing cycle racks on trains;
- Oxford park and ride is the largest in the UK and an essential element in holding down traffic levels in the city.
Better interchanges: the award winning Birkenhead bus station.
Local authorities will be expected to identify the improvements that need to be made. Funding will be available through local transport plans for improving interchanges - especially to help disabled people and for pedestrian and cycle access. We will encourage greater use of public-private partnerships to fund improvements.
Designing for better interchange can yield significant benefits and represents good value for money. For example, many towns have re-organised their high street bus stops and now have groups of stops served by interconnecting services. Small scale improvements which can make a real difference but which are often overlooked include:
- better protection from the weather;
- instantly readable and relevant information on routes and frequencies;
- better directional signs between, for example, bus stops and between rail and bus stations;
- regular cleaning and maintenance;
- secure parking for bikes at bus shelters.
Integration in action on Anglia Railways.
We will commission further research4 in order to update guidance on interchange, identifying best practice and good design. The guidance will cover the needs of disabled people and will consider the planning process. It will look at the way shops and cafes, well-maintained toilets and baby-changing facilities, and attractive architectural design and public art can add to quality of interchanges and make them safer and more inviting places.
Pedestrian access to rail and bus stations is often poorly designed and can be hazardous. Significant measures also need to be taken to improve provision for cyclists. This is relatively limited even at the larger rail stations and where storage facilities are provided, security is often poor, deterring cyclists from using trains and rail passengers from cycling to the station. We will look carefully in our additional research into interchange at how pedestrian and cycle access can be improved.
All rail operators will be asked to report on their success in meeting the objectives in the code of practice for rail operators developed by Sustrans, the Cyclists Public Affairs Group and the CTC. We will collaborate with local authorities, public transport operators and other bodies to help establish acceptable methods of carrying cycles on buses and coaches.
Providing for cyclists, Sustrans' code of practice for rail operators
Rail operators should provide as far as is reasonably practicable:
- general customer information on cycle facilities;
- improved access for cyclists to stations;
- sufficient, adequate and convenient cycle parking at stations - under surveillance and well-signed;
- onboard storage of bicycles which is sufficient, safe and secure and does not unduly inconvenience other users;
- at-station information and help for cyclists.
Local development plans should consider allocating sites for interchange; for example, for park and ride to town centres and at bus and rail stations. Local planning authorities can protect these proposals through the exercise of their development control responsibilities. To help local authorities we have commissioned research into what makes park and ride successful and its effect on car mileage. On completion of the project, which is expected shortly, we will publish advice on best practice.
Timetable co-ordination and service stability
We will bring forward changes to promote service stability and limit the frequency of bus timetable changes as well as improving the quality of timetable information. These will include changing the period of notice required before a registration with the Traffic Commissioners, or its variation, becomes effective, introducing set dates for service changes and proposals for requiring operators to provide service and schedule information electronically in a standard format. Some of these changes can be made by secondary legislation after consultation but others will require primary legislation.
Our proposals will, of course, reflect the need for operators to retain sufficient flexibility to make essential and timely adjustments to meet passenger demand. Bus operators and local authorities will be expected to make progress on a voluntary basis in the interim.
The current railway performance regime - the incentives system used by Railtrack and operators - could be improved to encourage train operators to hold connecting trains when delays occur. We look to the Rail Regulator to address the weaknesses of the current system.
We will continue to encourage bus and train operators to develop the potential of integrated bus and rail services. Some train operators already operate feeder bus services linking stations to those towns that have no rail routes or inadequate connections. We expect the pace of these initiatives to accelerate with increased co-operation between bus and train operators. We will issue general guidance on the application of the prohibitions in the Competition Bill, so as not to deter co-operation between operators that is in the interests of connecting services, co-ordinated timetables and integrated networks.
Local authorities will be expected to establish groups with transport operators, user groups and others to discuss timetable needs and planning. Their recommendations will inform the preparation of local transport plans.
Although operators have recently improved passenger information, its quality still varies dramatically across the country. It is quite good for rail journeys, variable for bus journeys and only good in a few places for journeys involving bus and rail.
For journey planning the customer needs information on
- interchange details and facilities;
- how to book;
- delays and engineering works.
Train operators are required to co-operate in the provision of passenger information and information must be impartial between rail companies. As part of their licensing agreement, train operating companies are obliged to provide timetable and fare information for a central database5 and operate the National Rail Enquiry Service collectively. The Rail Regulator is presently responsible for enforcing licence conditions and has been active in doing so. Train operators and Railtrack are now working together to improve information. The improvements include:
- common standards for information displays and timetable information;
- development of 'real time' information for passengers;
- co-operation between operators following service disruption.
There is no obligation on bus operators or local authorities to provide published timetables but most of them do so. Local authorities often provide area-wide timetables derived from the information that operators are obliged to send them when registering services with the Traffic Commissioners. There are good examples of well-designed information backed up by telephone enquiry points.
Great Britain Bus Timetable
- published by Southern Vectis three times a year. Provides comprehensive coverage of long distance bus and coach services, with limited coverage of local services;
- Southern Vectis also operates a central telephone enquiry service, providing telephone numbers for individual operators so that more detailed information about services (including rail services) can be obtained.
Getting timetable and connection information is vital for many passengers. We are keen to see a national integrated journey timetable set up. The best way forward is to develop a framework which builds on information already available6 and draws on new information schemes as they become available. Passengers would access the system through one enquiry point, even though information would be drawn from different sources. The enquiry points could include a telephone information line, enquiry bureau, teletext and the internet.
In partnership with local authorities, operators and user groups, we will seek agreement on the format of information and interfaces between different systems, and co-ordinate research to provide both local and national coverage. Our aim is for a public transport information system to be systematically extended across the country by 2000. The initial focus will be on timetable information but the framework will be developed with the aim of including information on fares.
We will also develop our existing guidance on passenger information including timetables, fares, interchange and booking information across all types of public transport and different media. The new guidance will in addition cover the marketing, promotion and presentation of information, and best practice for in-journey information.
We will ensure that local authorities and transport operators are aware of their duties under Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act which will require them, in certain circumstances, to produce information in formats which are accessible to disabled people. This might include information provided in large print or on audio tape for visually impaired people or given via a minicom for people who are hard of hearing. We will announce the timetable for implementation of the remaining duties in Part III in due course.
Using new technology
- London Transport's ROUTES (Rail Omnibus Underground Travel Enquiry System) is a sophisticated information system, providing real time multi-modal information on travel in the Greater London area;
- North West Trains has a web site providing real time information on the state of arrivals and departures at stations in its area as well as timetable and journey planning information;
- Buckinghamshire County Council provides a comprehensive county-wide public transport guide with a linked map, timetable and route finder;
- Southampton and Winchester have bus arrival time information at bus stops and late running buses are given priority at junctions through the SCOOT traffic signal control system;
- Tyne and Wear is developing a transport information service using teletext on cable television and the internet aimed specifically at elderly and disabled people.
To help secure improvements in passenger information at the local level, we will require local authorities to ensure that information about bus services is available in their areas, including at bus stops. This will enhance local authority involvement in promoting public transport. Local authorities will have new powers to secure the availability of passenger information where necessary and to recover the costs from operators. These changes will require primary legislation.
In the short term, we intend to introduce a series of small scale improvements via secondary legislation. These will strengthen the requirements on bus operators to display timetables and fares inside buses. 5. Railplanner contains information from Railtrack's database
6. "Review of Telematics Relevant to Public Transport", Transport Research Laboratory, 1998.
Taxis can be an important link.
Taxis are an important part of an integrated public transport system and, together with private hire vehicles (PHVs), fill the gap when most buses and trains have stopped for the night. Local authorities will need to consider these vehicles in their local transport plans including, for example, the priority they are to be given when road space is reallocated and whether there are sufficient taxi ranks in the right places, operating at the right times of day.
It is important that local authorities use their taxi and licensing powers to ensure that taxis and PHVs in their district are safe, comfortable, properly insured and available where and when required. Outside London, taxis and PHVs are regulated by local authorities to check that vehicles are safe and that drivers do not have relevant criminal convictions. In London, the taxi trade is regulated but there is no criminal record check of minicab drivers, nor proper checks on the vehicles or minicab companies. Inadequately regulated minicabs are open to abuse and at worst are an unsafe way to travel. Therefore, following consultation last year, we have concluded that there should be regulation of London minicab drivers, vehicles and operators. We are supporting a Private Member's Bill on this matter but if that should fail for any reason then we would introduce a Bill as soon as Parliamentary time permits.
Travelling without fear
Many of the responses to our consultation for this White Paper suggest that concern about personal security is a constraint on the use of public transport and walking. This can be worse at night and for older people, women and ethnic minorities. People who live in inner city areas with high crime levels can suffer most. Research7 has suggested that over 10% extra patronage of public transport could be generated mainly in off-peak times if travellers, particularly women, felt safer in making their journeys. There is a virtuous circle here - fuller trains and buses make people feel safer when travelling.
Government's objectives for the police
- targeting and reducing local problems of crime and disorder;
- making towns and neighbourhoods safer will help promote walking, cycling and public transport as alternatives to the car;
- securing co-operation of all, including the local community.
Widening choice for everyone.
The New Deal for transport is about giving people choice. We want people to make more use of public transport but understand that for some, especially women, and for some time, the private car will continue to be perceived as providing the safest way (in terms of personal security) of getting around. The reduction of crime, and fear of crime, wherever it occurs in the transport system will be a major priority.
We will work with local authorities, transport operators, the police and motoring and other organisations on specific measures to reduce fears about personal security on transport, and more generally in the planning and design of urban and rural areas.
Tackling car crime
We are working across Government with the car industry and insurers, motoring and consumer organisations and the police to reduce vehicle crime by, for example:
- revamping and relaunching the secured car parks scheme, promoted by the Association of Chief Police Officers with the support of the Home Office and administered by the AA. This aims to create a safer parking environment by increasing the number of accredited car parks from 450 to 2,000 by the year 2000;
- analysing and publishing vehicle crime data to inform motorists of the risk of theft by make and model;
- setting targets for manufacturers on the performance of vehicle perimeter security and immobilisation devices.
We will encourage the spread of best practice in crime prevention techniques on public transport. In particular, we will identify and evaluate current crime prevention initiatives and issue guidance on good practice measures to improve security for passengers and pedestrians.
There are already initiatives where train operators are working with local authorities to improve security at stations. We welcome these, not least because stations are a key area of concern for lone travellers, particularly women. Some operators are reinforcing security on their trains through, for example, the use of CCTV.
We expect all public transport operators to adopt the crime prevention strategies contained in our guidance "Personal Security on Public Transport - Guidelines for Operators". Simple measures can be important, for example, better lighting and training and availability of staff. Station staff also have an important role in helping their customers, particularly elderly and disabled people, to use services.
We have recently launched, with the British Transport Police and Crime Concern, the "Secure Stations Scheme" aimed at fighting the fear of crime at stations. Further measures may also be needed to make car parks near stations or at park and ride sites even safer, to encourage more people to use public transport for part of their journey.
Secure Stations fight fear of crime
Under the new "Secure Stations Scheme" all 3,000 stations policed by the British Transport Police can apply to become Secure Stations. The scheme establishes the first ever national standards for station security. To be accredited, stations must meet management and design standards for:
- trained staff and close-circuit surveillance;
- rapid response in emergencies;
- regular inspection and maintenance;
- better lighting and secure fencing;
Standards apply to station platforms, interiors, approaches and car parks.
Station operators have to conduct an independent passenger survey to see whether passengers feel safe at the station and provide evidence of low crime rates over a sustained period.
Transport staff also deserve to be free from the fear of crime. We will encourage good practice by all public transport operators to protect their staff. The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions' (DETR) practical guide on "Protecting Bus Crews" sets out measures to reduce the risks for bus crews.
For bus passengers, the greatest fear about personal security is waiting at the bus stop and on the walk to and from the bus stop at either end of the journey. This is something that can be tackled in part through getting street design right in the first place, as well as by enhanced security through measures such as CCTV - which also has a part to play in making bus journeys feel safer.
Attention also needs to be given to the design and layout of bus stations and their operation, particularly at night, in order to increase passenger security. Revised planning guidance in England (see Chapter 4) will highlight the need for environments that are convenient, attractive and safe for walking.
Concern for personal security can also impose extra costs. For example, people preferring to travel in pairs or in groups may have had to look to taxis as a cheaper option than public transport. But there are alternatives. We will encourage marketing schemes such as 'two for the price of one' which can help to keep people using public transport, particularly after dark.
Encouraging group travel
- South West Trains 'family fare' - 1997 Christmas promotion allowed five people to travel to Guildford from local stations for a total of £5;
- Centro (West Midlands PTE) daytripper - up to six people benefit from the daytripper card for no more than the price of one adult and one child;
- 'Kids for a Penny' - in a bid to encourage family bus travel, Trent Buses ran a scheme last summer (June to August) allowing a child accompanied by a paying adult to travel on their buses for just 1p.
Local traffic management: the potential
- significant scope for development in larger towns, with traffic restraint measures;
- local transport plans to develop and implement coherent and comprehensive policies;
- Quality Partnerships and Quality Contracts to secure better bus services.
- scope for development of new designs of traffic calming in, for example, historic cores of some towns, popular countryside destinations and rural lanes; low speed and home zones in residential areas.
- cycle route networks;
- pedestrian route enhancements;
- priority route networks as in London and Edinburgh provide a framework for application of traffic management policies, eg bus priority, parking restraint, urban traffic control.
Urban traffic control
- early progress possible in local authorities to make fuller use of the best facilities already available;
- over time, Government/industry collaboration on new range of modern urban traffic management systems.
- good signing can help efficient use of the network. It needs to be well-maintained and updated; signing can be made less environmentally intrusive;
- new techniques such as automatic incident detection offer the prospect of strategic traffic management control of highway networks;
- use of in-vehicle information services likely to grow; route guidance will help to reduce unnecessary travel, especially when live traffic information is incorporated.
- restriction of certain areas to 'clean' or 'quiet' vehicles.
- control of on-street parking to prevent vehicles obstructing traffic and pedestrians;
- new types of equipment for controlling on-street parking; electronic meters, pay and display machines operated by magnetic cards, and voucher systems;
- parking enforcement by local authorities, penalties used to fund enforcement, scope for more authorities to take up new powers;
- parking control, on and off-street, as a component of plans to reduce the amount of travel in and to congested town centres;
- parking restraint strategies that include packages of measures to improve access to town centres by public transport and deter through-traffic and a levy on parking at the workplace can substantially reduce the amount of traffic in central areas;
Car Sharing Lanes
- High Occupancy Vehicle Lane in Leeds recently opened as part of EU research project, will be monitored for progress and potential elsewhere.
7. "Perceptions of safety from crime on public transport", Crime Concern and Transport and Travel Research, 1997.
Accessible transport for disabled people and easier access for all
Public transport must meet the needs of all in our community and 'accessible' public transport is vital for disabled people in particular, so that they have the opportunity to play a full part in society. The steps we are taking through the Disability Discrimination Act will mean that in future public transport is accessible to disabled people as a matter of course, including those who need to use a wheelchair. This will also make life easier for the growing population of people who are elderly and those who need to travel with a baby-buggy or pram, or heavy shopping.
We are bringing into effect the requirements for new rolling stock on the railway from the end of this year. For buses and taxis the implementation dates are being set following consultation. We have consulted on an implementation date of 1 January 2002 for taxis and a range of dates according to different bus and coach types, starting with 1 January 2000 for large single deck vehicles.
From 1 January 1999, to conform with EU law, we will raise the maximum axle weight of buses and coaches from 10.5 to 11.5 tonnes and increase their maximum gross weight from 17 to 18 tonnes. We will bring forward the necessary legal changes shortly. This change will allow some safety and accessibility improvements to buses and coaches such as the ability to design low-floor buses, without imposing significant reductions in carrying capacity.
Accessibility is a much more complex issue than simply making it easier to get on and off public transport. To get the most out of investment in accessible public transport, local authorities and transport operators will have to consider the needs of disabled people from start to finish of their journey. This involves tackling barriers in the street, at bus stops and at public transport interchanges. The availability of staff to help disabled people is important.
Local authorities can use the land use planning system to ensure that developments are accessible to disabled people. When drawing up their local transport plans, local authorities will be expected to address accessibility issues. We will draw up guidance to help them.
Europa Buscentre and Great Victoria Street Railway Station, Belfast:
- an integrated bus and rail facility in a fully accessible environment;
- design features include low level counters at booking offices, low level public telephones, textphone facilities, tactile flooring, high contrast signage, an induction loop, parents' room and toilets for disabled customers.
Buchanan Bus Station, Glasgow:
- provides level access throughout with automatic doors and dropped kerbs;
- has low level telephones and wheelchair accessible toilets and a wheelchair is available on request for people with walking difficulties.
Because the accessibility regulations under the Disability Discrimination Act will apply only to new buses, coaches, trains and newly licensed taxis, it will take time to achieve a fully accessible transport network. Good progress is already being made by the bus industry in introducing modern, accessible buses into the fleet. Some local authorities have introduced grants to prompt operators to try low-floor buses by 'topping up' the difference in cost compared with a conventional bus. We expect our proposals for Quality Partnerships to accelerate the introduction of low-floor buses.
On the railway, much can be achieved within the existing regulatory framework. For example, all inter-city services are fully accessible and new services such as the Heathrow Express are designed and built to offer full access. The Rail Regulator has a duty to take account of the needs of disabled people. This includes the production of a Code of Practice, which has been drawn up in consultation with the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee. In addition, the Strategic Rail Authority will have a specific duty to protect the interests of disabled people and promote the provision of accessible transport.
We want airports and ferries to be more accessible and cater for the needs of disabled people. We also want more taxis to be accessible to disabled people and for private hire companies to make greater efforts to respond to their needs. But we appreciate that for some, severely disabled people in particular, a car may be the only viable way of getting around. The New Deal for transport is about widening choice not forcing people out of their cars. Anyone who meets the required standards will have the right to hold a driving licence and own and use a car. We have already, for example, exempted vehicles first registered in the 'disabled exempt' tax class from the fee that was introduced in April for the first registration of a vehicle. Disabled people registering their vehicle in this class are among those with the most severe mobility difficulties.
Car free housing
- frees up the land normally used for car parking and access for other uses, including more green space;
- children can play out of doors in greater safety and residents benefit from better local air quality and less noise;
- the approach has been pioneered in Germany and the Netherlands, and construction is starting shortly in Edinburgh on one of the first schemes in this country.
Streets for people
Integration on local roads
Making better use of local roads: vehicles carrying more than one person benefit from this priority lane in Leeds.
Through the New Deal for transport we will improve the environment in towns and cities and create the conditions for people to move around more easily. More road space and priority will be given to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.
We will achieve this by a different approach to traffic management. This new approach will also help to achieve the air quality objectives of the National Air Quality Strategy. Local authorities will be expected to take a strategic view of traffic management when preparing Regional Planning Guidance and development plans (see Chapter 4), considering how different measures can complement each other. Local transport plans will set out how these measures are to be delivered at the local level.
Local authorities should not have to 'reinvent the wheel' in traffic management. We will provide advice and guidance, and disseminate the principles of good practice that emerge from our traffic management research programme. We will also encourage the use of new technology in traffic management where appropriate and cost-effective.
People before traffic: shoppers in Cambridge.
In the past there has been some concern that a different approach to traffic management could cause excessive congestion on other parts of the network. Research8 suggests that this concern can be exaggerated and has stressed that schemes should be judged against a broad range of objectives. We will encourage the development of new appraisal systems that take account of the wider benefits of a more radical and comprehensive approach to traffic management.
We wish to reduce the impact on traffic and pedestrians caused by street works for utility companies. We will consult on options for an incentive system, with penalties, to minimise disruption to all road users, and to encourage improved co-ordination of streetworks.
8. "Traffic Impact of Highway Capacity Reduction", MVA and ESRC Transport Studies Unit, UCL, 1998.
Living town centres
Thriving town centres are the focus of urban life. They are central to sustainable development because they are easily accessible by a choice of transport. Good public transport is essential and so, too, is the quality of environment. People want well-planned town centres where they can live, enjoy shopping, working and local culture. Too often, town centres have been sacrificed to busy roads: the New Deal for transport will give priority to people over traffic.
Putting people first in Edinburgh
- road space priorities have been changed with clear benefits for pedestrians, bus users, local business and the environment;
- in the historic Royal Mile, space for pedestrians has been increased substantially and it is closed to vehicles at the busiest times during the International Festival. It is estimated that improvements will lead to an extra £26 million being spent in Edinburgh every year;
- in Princes Street, the main shopping street, traffic levels have been reduced substantially. Accidents are down by a third (14% down in the wider area), air quality is significantly improved and shoppers are spending more.
Despite initial misgivings from some local traders, pedestrianisation schemes have proved very popular. We will also encourage local authorities to consider traffic calming and the reallocation of road space to promote walking and cycling and to give priority to public transport.
We will support local authorities and the haulage industry in the development of 'City Logistics' systems9, drawing on the experience of projects which have been initiated in other EU countries. These could help to improve efficiency in goods deliveries and reduce pollution.
We have launched the ALTER project - Alternative Traffic in Towns - during the UK Presidency of the EU to help to produce healthier town centres and cities. ALTER will produce concerted action by cities across Europe to give preferential access in certain areas to vehicles with zero or low emissions. Oxford is one of the lead authorities, together with Athens, Barcelona, Florence, Lisbon and Stockholm. All European cities with a population of more than 100,000 are to be invited to a conference in Florence in October 1998 to take the project forward.
The concept of 'Clear Zones' is being developed through our Foresight programme.10 Clear Zones can improve the quality of life in town centres through:
- reducing the impact of traffic while maintaining accessibility, viability and vitality;
- reducing emissions caused by public transport and goods distribution;
- looking at demand management and the provision of efficient interfaces and information between different types of transport.
A co-ordinator has been appointed under the Foresight Transport Panel to help in the development and demonstration of technologies to achieve these aims, and to support local authorities who wish to implement Clear Zones.
Quality residential environments
We want towns and cities to be places where people want to live. The New Deal for transport will support the urban renaissance that is essential to revitalise urban living and save our countryside from urban sprawl.
In part, this means people being able to go about their daily business without being intimidated by traffic. Better planning can contribute to achieving better and safer residential environments by influencing the design and layout of new developments. Traffic can be calmed from the outset by designing for low speeds. Sometimes new developments can be designed to be 'car free'.
In established residential areas we want to see the creative use of traffic management tools. We want local authorities to make greater use of the wide range of techniques now available that allow traffic calming to be introduced cost-effectively and with sensitivity to the environment. This will include more extensive use of '20 mph zones'. In these zones, the frequency of accidents has been reduced by about 60% and accidents involving children have fallen by 67%.
20 mph zones are most effective in a series of residential streets or other areas, where speeding traffic puts pedestrians, often children, and other vulnerable road users such as cyclists at risk. To encourage greater use, we will issue new guidance. We have already announced proposals to free local authorities to make their own decisions about 20 mph speed limits.
'Home zones' have been developed in a number of European countries and involve even lower traffic speeds, more pedestrianised areas and design features that emphasise the change in priority to pedestrians and cyclists. They could prove to be a valuable tool in improving the places where people live and children play.
With good design many of the objectives of homes zones could be achieved within existing legislation. We will welcome proposals by, and work with, local authorities who wish to pilot the idea.
Millennium Village, Greenwich a sustainable urban community
- school, shops, small businesses, medical facilities, places of worship, community facilities, parkland and open spaces to be within easy walking distance of homes and each other;
- much reduced car dependency;
- well connected by public transport through the Jubilee Line Extension to the heart of London and by the Millennium Transit - a modern, low emission and frequent bus service - to local stations.
9. see section on sustainable distribution below.
10. The Government's Foresight programme aims to encourage business and university scientists and engineers to work together to exploit science, engineering and technology to increase wealth and quality of life. The second round of Foresight will be launched in April 1999.
A more peaceful countryside
Traffic management can help to produce better and safer local road conditions, both for those who live and work in rural areas and for visitors, and protect the character of the countryside.
We welcome the Countryside Commission's demonstration projects11 for traffic management and the support of the local highway authorities concerned. One of the main conclusions of the work is the need for a strategic approach to managing local traffic, otherwise problems are shunted around the countryside from one place to another. Countryside traffic strategies, that enable individual traffic schemes to be brought forward as part of a wider consideration of traffic and transport, will be important parts of local transport plans.
Traditional traffic management measures can have an urban look and can be even more damaging in the countryside than on the appearance of our towns. We will therefore encourage the continued development of new and imaginative ways of designing local traffic schemes to make them more sensitive to their surroundings. The Countryside Commission's work on Village Design Statements and Countryside Design Summaries is a helpful contribution. The Commission is also producing new guidance for traffic management and calming design and last year, with our support, set up the Countryside Traffic Measures Group (CTMG) to spur innovation in rural traffic management. This will broaden our understanding of the way traffic management measures can be designed with sensitivity to the countryside.
The Countryside Commission will set up later this year a Rural Traffic Advisory Service. It will organise local groups and seminars to speed the adoption of the measures explored in the CTMG and the Commission's research on the design and implementation of rural traffic measures.
"Rural traffic: getting it right", the Countryside Commission's demonstration projects
- traffic calming for Crook: responding to a community request;
- Elterwater Parking: relieving parking congestion;
- under Loughrigg: protecting a quiet country lane;
- public transport information;
- cycling services.
In Surrey, "be a star, don't use the car":
- protecting minor roads from 'rat-running' in the Dorking area;
- amenity and safety on the road for South West Waverley;
- congestion in a tourist village: Shere;
- traffic and schools: Lingfield Primary;
- two wheels not four, the Surrey cycleway.
On Dartmoor, "take moor care":
- area speed limit: reducing animal accidents;
- strategic coach route network;
- Okehampton Railway station and interchange;
- village traffic calming schemes;
- cycling schemes: Dartmoor by bike.
The Countryside Commission envisages working closely with local authorities as part of a 'Quiet Roads' initiative - to introduce measures to make selected country lanes more attractive for walking, cycling and horse riding, in the interests of a more tranquil and attractive rural environment. The Commission is also developing 'greenways' as traffic free routes within the countryside and from towns and cities to the countryside. Together with Quiet Roads they can form networks that provide safe alternatives to car travel.
We will help the Countryside Commission and local authorities develop these ideas. This could be through advice and support, including regulatory cover for experiment and innovation where appropriate, or by pilot projects linked to rural traffic management. Local authorities will be able to finance such initiatives through funding for their local transport plans. 11. these followed the Countryside Commission's 1992 report "Road Traffic and the Countryside".
Making better use of trunk roads
This White Paper sets a new course for roads policy. The days of 'predict and provide' are over - we will give top priority to improving the maintenance and management of existing roads before building new ones. Our New Deal for transport means a better managed road network so that it delivers a high quality service to the road user.
Roads are currently a major source of frustration for drivers, both private and commercial. Parts of the trunk road network are under considerable stress. To tackle this sustainably we need to get all modes of transport and land use planning working together. This is why we made integration one of the five criteria in our review of trunk road policy and of the roads programme we inherited. It is also why it is important that we should bring trunk roads within the regional planning process in England (see Chapter 4). All decisions on road investment will be taken in the context of our integrated transport policy.
In the past, the focus of investment has been on building new roads at the expense of managing existing ones. We will change the priority and provide a coherent programme for improving the service offered by trunk roads.12 We will look at trunk roads in their wider context, and at the part they play in those transport corridors which include road and rail routes. Our priorities for trunk roads will complement improvements to inter-urban travel, by rail in particular, so that they form part of an integrated approach. We will:
- improve road maintenance, making it our first priority. Skimping on maintenance wastes money. If maintenance is delayed too long structural damage is done and much more expensive and highly disruptive repairs are required;
- make the best use of the roads we have already by investing in network control and traffic management measures and in minor improvements. This will include giving priority in specific locations to certain types of traffic, including buses and coaches and heavy goods vehicles;
- promote carefully targeted capacity improvements to address existing congestion on the network, where they support our integrated transport policy.
Since new roads can lead to more traffic, adding to the problem not reducing it, all plausible options need to be considered before a new road is built. Carefully targeted improvements to existing roads will be considered, generally as part of wider packages including traffic management measures. Traffic calming and measures to reduce traffic will also be considered in conjunction with, and as alternatives to, the construction of bypasses for towns and villages.
Decisions on when and where to invest in network improvements, including measures to manage traffic, will be taken in the light of the new approach to appraisal based on the criteria:
- integration - ensuring that all decisions are taken in the context of our integrated transport policy;
- safety - to improve safety for all road users;
- economy - supporting sustainable economic activity in appropriate locations and getting good value for money;
- environmental impact - protecting the built and natural environment;
- accessibility - improving access to everyday facilities for those without a car and reducing community severance.
12. in England to be developed in the Roads Review Report. There will be separate reports for Scotland and Wales.
An integrated network
Making connections: using the Park & Ride scheme, Oxford.
Trunk roads are an integral part of our transport system. They cannot and should not be managed and developed in isolation. We will manage the trunk road network (and encourage local authorities to manage local roads) as part of a series of transport networks that have good connections between them.
There are three key aspects to this:
- integration between all types of transport. We want to make it as easy as possible for car drivers to switch to rail, bus and coach by providing good connections between them, by managing roads as part of the wider transport system and by improved co-ordination with public transport operators. This will increase choice and help to create reliable and seamless journeys;
- integration between road freight and other freight modes. Better connections to rail freight terminals and ports can help encourage hauliers to switch to rail and shipping;
- integration between trunk roads and local roads. The management of trunk and local road networks is already substantially integrated but this needs to be developed further. Both networks cover a range of road types and situations and to some extent the measures for achieving integration on local roads considered earlier in this Chapter will be of relevance to trunk roads.
The likely impact on local roads will be an important consideration in bringing forward traffic management measures on the trunk road network. Through-traffic will be encouraged to use trunk roads, not unsuitable local roads.
A core road network
The trunk road network varies greatly from place to place, although most trunk roads are of clear national significance. We have identified a core network in England of nationally important routes (see map at Annex E). In defining this network we have taken the following factors into account:
- linking main centres of population and economic activity;
- accessing major ports, airports and rail intermodal terminals;
- joining peripheral regions to the centre;
- providing key cross-border links to Scotland and Wales;
- classification as part of the UK Trans-European Road Network.
There are a number of trunk roads which mainly serve local and regional traffic. Such roads would be more appropriately managed by the local highway authority, to enable decisions to be taken locally and to be better integrated with local transport and land use planning issues. Our consultation on the strategy for trunk roads in England showed significant support for the 'de-trunking' of these roads. We will consult the Local Government Association and individual local highway authorities in taking forward these proposals for devolving powers.
Making better use
In England, the Highways Agency is developing a 'Toolkit' of techniques and equipment which can be used individually or in combination for making better use of the network. As well as bringing forward local environmental and safety improvements, we have asked the Agency to focus the development of its Toolkit on:
- integrating the trunk road network with other modes of transport by providing
- safer and more accessible interchanges between modes;
- clear, comprehensive and up-to-date information using the latest technology to assist route and mode choice;
- priority measures to assist public transport and vulnerable users;
- managing traffic demand on the network, including giving priority to buses, coaches and lorries where appropriate;
- increasing the efficiency of network operation.
Giving greater priority to coaches
- modern coaches can provide a flexible way of filling gaps in the services provided by trains, as well as competing with them on their own merits and in many cases, offering a lower cost alternative;
- M4 Heathrow bus and coach lane - is the first motorway bus lane to come into service. Road space was reallocated to create the dedicated bus lane. Bus journey time and reliability has been improved;
- M4 Junction 3 to Junction 2 - working on proposals for an eastbound bus and coach priority lane.
Toolkit measures will form part of our approach to making better use of the M25. We will pilot an innovative and imaginative mix of techniques on the M25 that can have wider application elsewhere. The controlled motorway experiment on the western sector of the M25 has already demonstrated that drivers can expect better journeys through smoother traffic flows and a reduction in stop-start driving conditions.
Toolkit measures are likely to be most effective if deployed as part of a 'Route Management Strategy'. This is a technique being developed by the Highways Agency to provide a framework for managing individual trunk routes as part of wider transport networks. Route management strategies will interlock with local transport strategies (set out in local transport plans), within the context established by Regional Planning Guidance.
In Scotland, the concepts of 'Route Action Plans' and 'Route Accident Reduction Plans' have been in place for several years resulting in the comprehensive study of routes and the application of similar tools to those in the Highways Agency's Toolkit.
The Highways Agency as network operator
We have set new objectives for the Highways Agency. Overall, the Agency's strategic aim will be to contribute to sustainable development by maintaining, improving and operating the trunk road network in support of our integrated transport and land use planning policies. The Agency's main purpose in future will be as a network operator rather than as a road builder. It will have the following key objectives:
- to give priority to the maintenance of trunk roads and bridges with the broad objective of minimising whole life costs;
- to develop its role as network operator by implementing traffic management, network control and other measures aimed at making best use of the existing infrastructure and facilitating integration with other transport modes;
- to take action to reduce congestion and increase the reliability of journey times;
- to carry out the Government's targeted programme of investment in trunk road improvements;
- to minimise the impact of the trunk road network on both the natural and built environment;
- to improve safety for all road users and contribute to the Government's new safety strategy and targets for 2010;
- to work in partnership with road users, transport providers and operators, local authorities and others affected by its operations, monitoring to promote choice and information to travellers and publishing information about the performance and reliability of the network;
- to be a good employer, managing the Agency's business efficiently and effectively, seeking continuous improvement.
The Highways Agency as network operator
- align trunk road network operation with integrated transport policy;
- focus on moving people and goods safely and effectively rather than building new roads;
- optimise use of network assets;
- promote the development of partnerships, eg with transport operators;
- provide travel and other network information to customers, especially the travelling public;
- ensure a consistent approach to managing the network within a route strategy framework.
The performance of the network in meeting the new objectives will be measured by a series of indicators to be developed by the Agency and published each year in its annual report. Performance will be reported against both economic and environmental indicators.
To serve road users more effectively, we have asked the Agency to work on proposals for Regional Traffic Control Centres (RTCCs) in England, complementing those already established in Wales. In Scotland, progress has already been made through the establishment and continuing development of the Scottish National Network Control Centre in Glasgow.
The aim of RTCCs is to:
- improve reliability on the network;
- reduce the disruption caused by major incidents;
- provide re-routing advice to minimise the effect of congestion and incidents;
- minimise delays due to roadworks;
- influence pre-trip decisions on route, time and mode by providing reliable and accurate information.
RTCCs can help in tackling the effects of traffic congestion by facilitating modern management techniques, including:
- traffic monitoring and modelling;
- strategic traffic control;
- traffic and travel information;
- assistance to the emergency services;
- network performance monitoring and management information.
Helping the road user
In order to improve the service for transport users, we have asked the Highways Agency to revise the "Road User's Charter" to bring it into line with integrated transport policy and give it an increased customer focus. The Highways Agency will continue to look for greater involvement with users of the network and there will be independent surveys of customer satisfaction.
Free recovery services at road works have proved successful in removing broken down vehicles quickly and looking after the safety and well-being of drivers and their passengers. The Highways Agency will build on this experience to improve on response times where breakdowns occur.
On motorways, following breakdowns or accidents, recovery vehicles are currently mobilised by the police. This service is important in both removing obstructions quickly and securing the safety of drivers and their passengers. The Highways Agency will work with the police to ensure the continuing improvement of this service. We will also look for ways to give recovery vehicles, which would need to be properly accredited, higher priority in congested traffic, including allowing them to run on the hard shoulder. These measures to improve the service to motorists will be complemented by our existing programmes to enhance roadside equipment such as CCTV cameras for use by the police and the replacement of older style emergency telephones by those which can be used by disabled people.
Through the new issue of the Highway Code we will provide clearer advice about the action to take should a motorist breakdown on a motorway. The guidance will explain how to find the nearest emergency roadside telephone. We will look at other ways of making this advice more widely available for motorists, both at the start of and during their journeys and at ways to improve the signing of emergency telephones.
Improving roadside facilities for lorry drivers
- at motorway service areas - we will publish best practice advice for developers and local planning authorities on improving facilities for lorry drivers, including short-stay and overnight parking, toilets and showers, food and refreshments;
- on other trunk roads - updated advice will encourage local authorities to identify locations where roadside facilities are inadequate and to favour proposals that take proper account of the needs of lorry drivers over those that do not;
- through better signing of lorry facilities.
Better information for the driver
As demonstrated by the AA's Roadwatch, the provision of relevant, timely and accurate information can help to make the best use of the road network by enabling travellers to make informed choices about alternative modes, routes and times. The Highways Agency will provide free of charge the roadside information that drivers need to make effective use of their network (as should local highway authorities for their networks). We also want to encourage a competitive market in more specialised travel information services supplied to individuals and companies. We will maintain an appropriate balance between these objectives, exploring the opportunities for public-private sector partnerships to achieve them.
- available in homes and offices from various sources including the radio and internet - including the Highways Agency's website.
- traditional roadside signing and road marking;
- electronic variable message signs;
- in-car radio;
- in-vehicle congestion warning systems;
- route guidance systems.
- Radio-Data System- Traffic Message Channel - pilot service starting shortly;
- dynamic route guidance systems;
- dedicated short range communications (roadside beacons) - three year technical trial (called Road Traffic Advisor) looking at user acceptance and safety.
More care for the local environment
More care for the environment: cutting down on light pollution.
When we plan trunk roads, we will place greater emphasis on the need to avoid sensitive sites. Our strong presumption against transport infrastructure affecting environmentally sensitive areas and sites is explained in Chapter 4. In operating the network, the effects on the natural and built environment will be assessed and where practicable mitigated. For example, we are publishing new advice on reducing the impact of roads on vulnerable species such as otters and bats.
The Highways Agency has research in hand on various matters, including a joint project with the Environment Agency on the polluting effects of water running off roads. It is also helping to develop new European standards to encourage greater use of recycled materials in construction. More information on the Highways Agency's environmental work will be published later this year.
Road lighting is needed on some roads in the interests of safety. Where lighting is essential it should be designed in such a way that nuisance is reduced and the effect on the night sky in the countryside minimised.
New lighting for the M62
- installed by the Highways Agency to reduce intrusion into the night landscape where the motorway crosses the high Pennines over Saddleworth Moor;
- new lamps direct most of the light downwards onto the motorway, produce a more natural colour and bring about a dramatic improvement in the night sky;
- lamps are about 30% brighter and last half as long again as those used previously.
Advice on the design of road lighting14 has recently been reviewed and expanded to provide up-to-date guidance on the appearance of lighting both during the day and at night. Guidance is also being developed on the assessment of new and replacement lighting schemes. 14. in the "Design Manual for Roads and Bridges" volumes 10-11.
Better development control
When responding to development proposals near trunk roads, the Highways Agency will reflect the context established by Regional Planning Guidance and development plans. The Agency will work with local authorities and public transport operators to explore transport options that are sustainable, including those that can be achieved through the use of planning conditions and planning obligations. Regional sustainable transport strategies and local transport plans will in due course provide more comprehensive information to support development control decisions (see Chapter 4).
Previously, the formation of new accesses to trunk roads has been discouraged in order to allow the free-flow of traffic. In support of our integrated transport policy the Highways Agency will in future adopt a graduated policy on new connections to trunk roads. Access will be most severely restricted in the case of motorways and core national routes. Elsewhere, there will be a less restrictive approach to connections, subject to consultation with the local authorities concerned.
This graduated policy will be of particular value in urban areas where there are brownfield sites that we would wish to see developed in support of our policies for sustainable development. Where brownfield sites could be connected to the trunk road network we will expect proposals for development to support the use of public transport, cycling and walking.
The Highways Agency will retain the right, on behalf of the Secretary of State, to direct the refusal of planning applications where the proposals raise significant concerns for road safety. Details of the new policy will be provided in a revision to planning policy guidance on transport (see Chapter 4) and an update of the Department of Transport Circular 4/88.
Delivering the goods: sustainable distribution
We sometimes take for granted how much our standard of living depends on goods delivered by the transport system. The question we face is how to deliver goods efficiently and with least harm to the environment and our health.
To achieve our aims, we will work in partnership with industry to promote sustainable distribution. By this we mean improving the efficiency of the distribution market in a way that meets our environmental objectives. It also means better planning and higher standards in the industry. We will publish shortly a strategy setting out a wide range of initiatives to deliver these objectives.
Vehicles running empty or lightly loaded lose the industry money, increase pollution and energy consumption and produce unnecessary pressures on road space.
The proportion of empty running lorries remains significant, at around 30%, and has been broadly static for the last ten years. It is more difficult to ascertain the extent of light running, where lorries are loaded to below their full capacity, but it is substantial. Whilst there are some industries where it is impractical to secure return loads, there are areas where it is possible to reduce light or empty running; for example, through improved information systems and promoting collaboration between operators to consolidate loads into fewer vehicles.
Good practice from Tesco
After completing their deliveries to stores, Tesco's lorries go on to suppliers and collect loads to take back to the distribution centre. Benefits over a full year are three million fewer miles, saving 4,600 tonnes of CO2 and £720,000 in fuel.
Fuel efficiency of lorries has improved by some 60% over the past 25 years. Trials by vehicle manufacturers demonstrate that further energy savings could be made by changes to driver behaviour.
We shall support industry's efforts to realise efficiency gains which deliver wider benefits; for example, through research and benchmarking to identify opportunities for reducing empty and light running, whether through investment in new technology (such as double-deck trailers or IT tools which facilitate load sharing and better route planning) or improving driver training.
From 1 January next year, we are obliged to conform with EU law by raising the maximum axle weight for lorries on international journeys from 10.5 to 11.5 tonnes and increasing the maximum gross weight of 5 axle articulated lorries from 38 to 40 tonnes. It would be very difficult in practice to distinguish national from international journeys in a way which is both fair and efficient, so we will allow such vehicles for both domestic and international journeys on UK roads. We will bring forward the necessary legal changes shortly.
These changes will not alter the size of vehicles but will allow more load per vehicle to be carried: this will improve the efficiency and competitiveness of UK hauliers. The problem is that the increased axle loading will cause greater road and bridge wear. A 40 tonne, 5 axle lorry with an 11.5 tonne axle weight causes about a third more wear than the heaviest lorries now permitted for general use (ie 38 tonne vehicle with an axle weight of 10.5 tonnes). Road maintenance is a substantial burden on the taxpayer and it is important that we do all we can to minimise the damage caused by heavier axle weights.
We are therefore developing a strategy to provide hauliers with incentives to make greater use of 6 axle lorries instead of 5 axle ones. 6 axle lorries are less damaging to roads and bridges because the extra axle allows the weight to be spread more evenly. But the load they can carry is less because the extra axle weighs about a tonne and the lorries are more expensive, making them less attractive to hauliers. The review of the basis of lorry Vehicle Excise Duty rates (VED) already announced by the Chancellor (see Chapter 4) will form part of the strategy by ensuring that the environmental damage, including to roads, caused by different types of lorries is reflected in their VED rates.
In addition, we want to provide a practical answer to the impact of the extra axle on the load that can be carried. We have therefore decided to allow 41 tonne gross weight lorries, on 6 axles and with road friendly suspension, on UK roads from 1 January 1999 15. These lorries will have to meet the same requirements as 38 and 40 tonne lorries for braking, noise and pollution.
We have also considered whether to go further and allow for general use the 44 tonne 6 axle lorry which was recommended by Sir Arthur Armitage in 198016, and which has been used for combined road/rail transport in the UK since 1994. 44 tonne lorries are effectively the same lorries as existing 38 tonne lorries: they are the same size, they meet the same minimum braking requirements, and the same maximum noise requirements, and their effects on road wear are similar. They would make road haulage more efficient because each lorry can be more fully laden, requiring fewer journeys for the same distribution tasks. Although a 44 tonne lorry would burn slightly more fuel and thus pollute slightly more than a 40 or 41 tonne lorry, the reduction in the total number of lorries for any given amount of goods distributed would bring less pollution overall. Similarly, there would, overall, be less noise, congestion and nuisance, greater safety and less damage to roads and bridges. However, a significant disadvantage of allowing 44 tonne lorries for general use is the risk that this could, in some situations, provide an incentive to switch freight from rail to road. One of the key objectives of the New Deal for transport is to encourage rail freight as a way of reducing pollution and congestion. Rail freight has benefited from the existing weight concession for combined road/rail movements. While much of the traffic that would take advantage of 44 tonne lorries, such as fuel deliveries to filling stations, is unsuitable for transfer to rail, it seems likely that some existing or future rail freight would transfer to road if 44 tonne lorries were allowed for general use.
Estimates of the impact of increasing lorry weights on lorry traffic are very sensitive to the assumptions made about the impact on rail freight and how much new lorry mileage would result. It is estimated17 that if 44 tonne lorries were available now, between 3,000 and 5,000 lorries might be taken off our roads but other than in the short term the numbers of heavy lorries would continue to grow.
As noted above, we are reviewing the basis of lorry VED rates. In addition, we are bringing forward a number of measures to promote rail freight, and to support the efforts which the freight train operators are now making to turn the tide of 40 years' decline. But it will take time for the full benefits to be realised and we believe it is important to give industry a realistic and increasingly attractive alternative to road haulage. An immediate move to 44 tonne lorries could prejudice that objective.
We therefore intend to ask the Commission for Integrated Transport (see Chapter 4) to consider the case for allowing 44 tonne lorries, on 6 axles, for general use in the light of the results of the review of the basis of lorry VED rates and evidence from interested parties including the rail freight operators and industry generally. In bringing forward its recommendations, we will ask the Commission to consider the best solution consistent with our approach for integrated and sustainable transport; in particular, whether there are measures that could be adopted to mitigate the potential impact on rail freight, including phasing of the introduction of 44 tonne lorries to allow more time for rail operators to expand their markets. We will also ask the Commission to consider whether there is scope for limiting any extension to 44 tonnes to lorries with the highest standards of emissions. We would not envisage the implementation of 44 tonne lorries before 2003. It is our intention to give railways the chance to develop the heavy load market.
Further discussion of the lorry weights issue, along with our detailed proposals for measures to improve the efficiency of lorries and to mitigate their effects on the community and on the environment, will be set out in our forthcoming paper on sustainable distribution. 15. Allowing hauliers to operate at 41 tonnes on 6 axles means they can carry approximately the same load as 40 tonne lorries on 5 axles, and still cause considerably less road and bridge wear. This is because their maximum axle weight will be limited to 10.5 tonnes under UK regulations for both domestic and international journeys.
16. "Report of the Inquiry into Lorries, People and the Environment", HMSO, 1980.
17. based on 1996 road and rail freight traffic, current VED rates and on the 5 tonne payload differential between 38 tonne lorries on 5 axles and 44 tonne lorries on 6 axles.
Quality Partnerships for freight
We will promote the development of Quality Partnerships for freight between the road haulage industry, local authorities and business. The aim will be to develop understanding of distribution issues and problems at the local level and to promote constructive solutions which reconcile the need for access for goods and services with local environmental and social concerns. This will build on existing experience such as 'Delivering the Goods', a joint initiative on urban distribution by the Local Government Association and the Freight Transport Association.
In our towns and cities, measures aimed at shifting lorry traffic away from the morning and afternoon peak hours could help to alleviate congestion and make better use of local networks. But it is also essential to minimise and avoid increasing disturbance to residents through out-of-hours deliveries.
The Traffic Commissioners play a central role in the regulation of lorries through their oversight and enforcement of the operator licensing system, which ensures that vehicles are safe and properly maintained, and that operators are fit and proper people to carry out their business. In exercising this role, the Traffic Commissioners' knowledge of the heavy goods vehicle (HGV) industry, their independence and their regional base, are particular strengths that we wish to retain and build on.
Suitable traffic for suitable roads
The efficient distribution of goods and services must be weighed against concerns about the quality of the urban and rural environment for the people who live and work there. There is substantial concern about the problem of 'rat-running' by large lorries, especially in rural communities. We agree with these concerns. Lorries should not travel on unsuitable roads unless they have to use them for collection or delivery. There is an established network of primary routes which lorry routeing should follow.
We will work with the Freight Transport Association and the Road Haulage Association to develop and publicise their 'Well Driven' scheme which is currently being extended to vans. This scheme provides a mechanism for people to complain about insensitive or irresponsible behaviour by lorry and van operators and drivers, including rat-running on unsuitable roads.
Bringing forward strategies to keep lorries away from unsuitable areas will be critical issues for local authorities in preparing their local transport plans. Under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, local authorities already have powers to prohibit or restrict lorry access, but in certain cases may need the approval of the Secretary of State. We will look at ways of improving and streamlining these arrangements.
There may also be scope for reducing the number of lorry and van movements by promoting greater consolidation of loads and drawing on the experience of 'City Logistics' systems18 where goods destined for city centres are diverted into common transhipment facilities with local distribution being carried out using specialised vehicles which may be smaller, quieter and less polluting. We will learn from the experiences gained in Europe from operating such systems.
Where environmental and noise concerns have led to lorry restrictions some firms have already responded with the use of alternatively powered vehicles.
More environmentally friendly lorries
- BOC has vehicles powered by liquefied natural gas. They produce fewer emissions than diesels and are considerably quieter. The project benefits from a 50% grant from Energy Saving Trust's Powershift initiative;
- Marks and Spencer use quieter, gas powered vehicles to deliver at night in Kensington and Chelsea as an exception to a night-time ban;
- J Sainsbury is experimenting with a solar powered refrigeration unit, replacing diesel power to cut noise and pollution.
18. for example, in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland.
Sustainable air freight
The increasing demand for rapid distribution of goods will continue to put pressures on air freight services and in turn on airports and associated infrastructure, adding to the pressures from growth in passenger traffic. The rapid growth of air cargo services and their wider economic, environmental and social significance requires further examination. We will commission new research to inform future policies on the air freight industry. The research will:
- assess the current development of the sector, including its economic importance and wider impacts;
- provide a better basis for forecasts of its future growth and the implications for demand for services and market change;
- support the development of the new national airports policy, which will set the framework within which the industry can plan for the future with greater certainty.
We shall encourage UK ship registration: cargo vessel at Tilbury docks.
The decline in the British merchant navy was accepted by the previous Government as the inevitable outcome of market forces. But the international market is significantly distorted by the effects of cut-price shipping and foreign subsidies.
We will take a strategic view of the role of shipping and the wider maritime-related industries in the national economy so as to determine Britain's future maritime needs and how those may be secured. Our policy will be based on a broader, long-term vision of the importance of British shipping to the nation. We will establish a clear set of objectives with firm commitments to action agreed jointly by the industry, unions and Government.
This integrated shipping policy will have four broad aims:
- to facilitate shipping as an efficient and environmentally friendly means of carrying our trade;
- to foster the growth of an efficient UK-owned merchant fleet;
- to promote the employment and training of UK seafarers in order to keep open a wide range of job opportunities for young people and to maintain the supply of skills and experience vital to the economy;
- to encourage UK ship registration, to increase ship owners' identification with the UK, to improve our regulatory control of shipping using UK ports and waters and to maintain the availability of assets and personnel that may be needed in time of war.
We are committed to working with the shipping industry to develop its potential to the full. We set up a Shipping Working Group last year to consider how to obtain the maximum national economic and environmental benefit from shipping. The Group reported in March with a range of proposals on seafarer training, employment, the fiscal environment and opportunities for UK shipping. Our response to these proposals and our strategy for reviving the shipping industry will be published shortly.
Making better use of coastal shipping and inland waterways
Research19 has indicated that there may be potential to divert about 3.5% of the UK's road freight traffic to water, split between ships re-routing to ports nearer to the origin and destination of their loads and the potential for bulk and unit loads to shift to coastal traffic.
Moving more goods by inland waterways: freight on its way to Leeds.
We intend to bring forward legislation to extend the application of the freight grant regime to include coastal and short sea shipping, reflecting a recommendation of the Shipping Working Group. We will consult on the details, including the costs which would be eligible for grant and the criteria to be used in assessing applications.
We will also encourage greater use of inland waterways, where that is a practical and economic option. We will re-examine the rules of the freight grant regime with a view to encouraging more applications for inland waterways projects. We want to see the best use made of inland waterways for transporting freight, to keep unnecessary lorries off our roads.
In addition to carrying freight, inland waterways also have an important role to play in providing leisure and tourism opportunities and can provide a catalyst for urban and rural regeneration.
Our revised planning guidance will encourage more freight to be carried by water. Local authorities in their development plans will be expected to consider opportunities for new development which are served by waterways.
Aims to establish new passenger services on the River Thames for the Millennium Exhibition at Greenwich and leave a lasting legacy of improved infrastructure and services. It has three key aspects:
- new passenger services, announced in March, including links to the Millennium Experience
- express services from dedicated London piers;
- shuttle service linking Greenwich town with the Millennium site;
- ... and longer term legacy services
- a 'hopper' service linking key central London destinations;
- an express service to central London;
- a programme of infrastructure works to create up to ten new piers at key locations on the river, modernise existing piers and improve linkages with other public transport;
- a new London Transport subsidiary - London River Services Ltd - to own and manage key piers on the river and promote, license and co-ordinate passenger services on the Thames, to help ensure that river services are integrated into transport plans for the capital.
The River Thames is a greatly under-used asset in London. It has potential for passenger transport and for freight, including aggregates and the transfer of waste. We are working to unlock this potential, through Strategic Planning Guidance for the Thames and through our Thames 2000 initiative which will establish new passenger river services by the Millennium. We will also ensure that use of the river is more fully integrated with other transport services in London, especially bus services. 19. "Roads to Water Research Project", Jonathon Packer and Associates, 1993.
Better integration of airports and ports
As recommended by the Transport Select Committee in May 199620, we will prepare a UK airports policy looking some 30 years ahead. This will develop the application to UK airports of the policies set out in this White Paper - of sustainable development, integration with surface transport and contribution to regional growth.
It will provide the framework within which those concerned can plan for the future with greater certainty. We will consult widely in preparing the new policy and will take account of the Inspector's report on the Heathrow Terminal 5 inquiry.
The policies we bring forward for civil aviation, as for other forms of transport, will reflect our strategy for sustainable development. This means aviation should meet the external costs, including environmental costs, which it imposes. We must tackle the effect of civil aviation and airports on the environment (see Chapter 4).
Less congested airports can relieve pressure on major airports.
The new airports policy will take account of the demand for airport capacity for scheduled, charter, business and freight aviation and the related environmental, development, social and economic factors. It will be taken forward in conjunction with airspace capacity issues and with consideration of surface access provision, particularly better public transport access. It will also consider ways, whether by economic or regulatory measures, of improving the utilisation of existing capacity, where this might be desirable; and it will take into account possible future developments in European legislation, for instance on runway slot allocation and airport charging.
The new policy will reflect the different roles and competitive strengths of the nation's airports. The largest and busiest airports serve the whole country or a large part of the country, and offer frequent direct services to a wide range of destinations. Many airports thrive on serving a more local area, with a combination of direct services where the demand is sufficient and connections to major international hub airports. Less congested airports, such as Luton, Stansted and most regional airports, can also be attractive to the new generation of low-cost airlines.
Each airport cannot be viewed in isolation from other airports. Airports both compete with each other and complement each other to some extent. A good example of this is Manchester and Liverpool: we welcome the co-operation between these airports which has developed during the last year. The new airports strategy will consider how each region might best be served by the combination of the available airports in the region; and, how regions and their airports, for example in the North and Midlands, might work together to realise the potential of airports away from the congested south east of England.
The policy will draw on new studies of the role of airports in economic development to gain a better understanding of the underlying relationships. These studies will focus on both aviation opportunities and the link between air services, economic growth and regeneration in specific local circumstances.
Role of Regional Airports
- SW England study - underway, expected to report by late 1998;
- studies to be carried out in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Midlands and the North of England: phased programme starting summer 1998 and reporting in 1999; tudies will be carried out in close consultation with local authority representatives and other interested organisations, including Regional Planning Conferences.
Taking account of the emerging findings of these studies, we will encourage the growth of regional airports to meet local demand for air travel where consistent with sustainable development principles. The aim is to:
- maximise the contribution which they make to local and regional economies;
- relieve pressure on congested airports in the south east of England;
- reduce the need for long surface journeys (particularly by road) to south east airports.
We have recently announced proposals to encourage international flights to regional airports through a policy of greater liberalisation. We have decided that open access to all UK airports, except Heathrow and Gatwick, should be offered to all of our bilateral air service partners, provided that UK airlines are also allowed to operate on the same routes. This change will allow both UK airlines and airlines of the country concerned to operate to and from that country on such routes without restrictions on capacity or frequency, and without the need for international aviation negotiations to establish such services. This will enable UK and foreign airlines to plan the development of services with confidence that future growth will not be limited by bilateral restrictions.
We have also announced proposals to free soundly-financed local authority airports from public sector borrowing controls. This relaxation will greatly assist major regional airports to invest and expand when this is commercially justified. It will allow them to compete for business on a level playing field with private sector airports.
We will also press for recognition in the revised EU regime for slot allocation, of the case for maintaining access from the regional airports into major hubs such as Heathrow and Gatwick.
Airports as interchanges
Airports are key interchanges and major employers. Improving access to them by public transport will help to reduce congestion and pollution on nearby roads.
Our consultation demonstrated a clear willingness on the part of the aviation industry and other interested parties to tackle the problems of airport accessibility. Airports such as Heathrow and Manchester already have programmes to improve public transport access. These are designed to get passengers and employees to use their cars less by improving the public transport alternatives.
As managers of some of the nation's largest public transport interchanges, airport operators will be well placed to make a positive contribution to integration. We will therefore expect airport operators to be partners in implementing surface transport initiatives to improve the quality of the public transport journey to their airports. The support of airlines using the airport is also important.
The airport's 'regional transport strategy' has a vision of integrated transport based on partnership to:
- increase public transport use by passengers and staff from 10% in 1992 to 25% by 2005;
- develop high quality ground transport interchange - construction of the first phase, a bus and coach station, begins later this year;
- improve the airport's rail connections - building on the frequent direct rail services to many major towns and cities in the North and Midlands;
- develop and promote a green commuter plan to increase environmental awareness among its employees.
The needs of surface access to airports should be considered as part of the wider transport strategy for the local area. Airport-related transport issues must be integrated with, not divorced from, local transport problems and opportunities.
Local transport plans should reflect the wider transport role defined for airports in regional strategies. To complement this work, we consider that all airports in England with scheduled passenger services should lead an Airport Transport Forum. Some of the larger airports have found these groups valuable in ensuring co-operation between all those interested in the development of surface transport serving the airport.
Funding local improvements
- some measures require only minimal funding (eg shared taxi schemes). Other improvements can flow from modest start-up funding (eg new bus routes or park and ride schemes). Some proposals, even those which would be commercially viable in the longer term, may require substantial development finance (eg new rail links);
- possible sources for funding include:
- from the aviation industry - where a scheme is viable or there are wider benefits to the industry;
- for airports to levy a surcharge on car parking charges;
- with both options we would expect the proceeds to be applied to public transport improvements or measures to mitigate the undesirable impacts of road traffic to and from the airport.
We envisage that local authorities, including the Passenger Transport Authority where applicable, would participate in the Airport Transport Forum which should have three specific objectives:
- to draw up and agree challenging short and long term targets for increasing the proportion of journeys to the airport made by public transport;
- to devise a strategy for achieving those targets, drawing on the best practice available. This is likely to involve a wide range of measures to address the needs of all those travelling to airports. Bus and coach services should be included as well as rail. This means that the management of traffic on local and trunk roads will be an important issue for some airports. We would hope to see strategies agreed by late 1999 and fed into the development of local transport plans;
- to oversee implementation of the strategy. Implementation should include green transport plans to cover commuting and business travel for all employees based at airports.
Integrating airports into the wider transport networks also means developing the connections to national and regional rail and coach services to reduce the present reliance on private, road based transport. While the new core national route network in England recognises the importance of airport connections, we will be looking for opportunities to facilitate public transport links to airports, with a particular focus on improved rail access.
Improving access to the UK's major hub airports by rail from other regions has the potential to attract feeder traffic away from roads (or even air) and bring environmental benefits. The Strategic Rail Authority will consider rail schemes that address deficiencies in direct airport links to the national network and encourage the development of regional and long-distance feeder services. We will make improving rail access to airports one of its aims.
Major new rail infrastructure is expensive. Links to thriving airports will have to compete against other claims on Government expenditure. We would expect the aviation industry itself to contribute funding for improvements, taking account of the extent that it benefits.
BAA working to integrate airports
- linking Heathrow to the national rail network - £440 million investment in the Heathrow Express to improve links with the national rail network and increase the proportion of the airport's passengers on public transport from a third to BAA's target of 50%;
- attracting airport staff on to buses - BAA has increased the quality, frequency and reliability of Heathrow and Gatwick local bus services to persuade the airport's staff to leave their cars at home. A pump-priming strategy has led to nearly a threefold increase in passengers;
- Stansted rail links - a local service between London and Stansted has recently been introduced by West Anglia Great Northern to complement the SkyTrain express service. A service to Stansted from Birmingham has resulted from partnership discussions between BAA, Essex and Cambridgeshire County Councils and Central Trains Ltd;
- the Heathrow Area Transport Forum - a forum of local transport authorities, key local businesses and transport operators co-ordinating transport policy across the area;
- Heathrow travelcard - an innovative travel card which entitles 56,000 staff working at Heathrow to discounts of up to 80% on 17 bus and coach services.
20. Second Report of the Transport Committee, House of Commons Session 1995-96, on UK Airport Capacity, published 21 May 1996, HoC paper 67.
Ports are a vital link in the supply chain to and from our trading partners and must be integrated with wider transport networks. The aims of our policy will be to:
- promote UK and regional competitiveness by encouraging reliable and efficient distribution and access to markets;
- enhance environmental and operational performance by encouraging the provision of multi-modal access to markets;
- make the best use of existing infrastructure, in preference to expansion wherever practicable;
- promote best environmental standards in the design and operation of ports, including where new development is justified.
The Strategic Rail Authority will be responsible for reviewing the scope for improving rail access to major ports, in consultation with Railtrack, the rail freight industry, port owners and shippers. Some improvements have already been made or planned - for example, Railtrack has started work on increasing capacity on the routes to Southampton and Felixstowe. The Strategic Rail Authority will need to consider whether further improvements are feasible and, if they are not commercially viable, whether it is justified to give some support from its own budget.
As port expansion can have significant effects on sensitive marine environments we will encourage the ports industry to invest in measures to deal with increased demand whilst avoiding the physical expansion of port land. English Nature is developing best practice on coastal management which will cover the role of ports.
The European Commission has recently published a Green Paper on ports and maritime infrastructure21 which states that the main objectives for ports should be to increase their efficiency and improve infrastructure by integrating ports into the multi-modal Trans-European Networks (TENs) and to ensure free and fair competition. We strongly support the Commission's proposals, recognising the importance of environmental issues in port development. 21. "Sea Ports and Maritime Infrastructure", European Commission Green Paper, COM (97)678, 1997.
Improving rail connections to the rest of Europe.
We will continue to work with the EU on the development of TENs. Our approach will be to seek to ensure that funding is directed at proposals which demonstrably further both European and UK transport objectives; and in particular shift passengers and freight from road to rail.
We will continue to make the best use of European funding of TENs in support of projects that help to improve strategic transport links between the UK and the rest of Europe. For at least the duration of this Parliament, we will continue to bid for support for the UK's two high-speed rail priority projects - the West Coast Main Line modernisation and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. In addition, opportunities will be explored for gaining support from the TENs budget towards other worthwhile projects that support our integrated transport policy.
Channel Tunnel Rail Link
Public-private partnerships are back on track with the revised agreement to build the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and operate the Eurostar service. £1.8 billion of Government grant will be complemented by £3.7 billion of private funding, which in a unique ground-breaking development will be raised through Government backed bonds. The link will be built in two phases and should be completed by 2007. The deal will deliver:
- a dedicated high speed railway for Channel Tunnel traffic, providing a strategic economic artery for international and domestic passengers and freight;
- a new international and domestic multi-modal transport interchange centred on Heathrow airport, providing an international gateway for rail services across the UK;
- over £3 billion of economic, transport and environment benefits including a major boost to the economic regeneration of North Kent and the Thames Gateway.
The Channel Tunnel Rail Link is a tangible example of our commitment to integrate national and international transport systems.
Reform of the railways across Europe is essential if rail is to deliver seamless and sustainable trans-European services capable of serving the needs of the Single Market. We welcome and will continue to press for progress towards the implementation of the recommendations set out in the European Commission's 1996 White Paper "A Strategy for Revitalising the Community's Railways".
Last November we secured important rail freight commitments from Eurotunnel and the French Government as part of the price for agreeing to an extension of Eurotunnel's concession. The deal includes agreement by the French Government to establish rail freight corridors to give international freight a higher priority. This package will help to realise the full potential of the Channel Tunnel for long distance rail freight.
The numbers killed on our roads are equivalent to 30 average commercial22 aircraft, fully loaded, crashing in the UK every year. But because road casualties occur only a few at a time they are not always noticed as much as aircraft or train disasters where, overall, the number of people killed is very much lower.
In 1987 a target was set to reduce road traffic casualties by a third by the year 2000 compared to the average for 1981-85 and this had a major influence in raising the profile of road safety. By 1997 the number of deaths on the road had fallen by 36% to 3,599 and the number of serious casualties had declined by 42% to 42,967. The total number of casualties has, however, not gone down, standing at 327,544.
In our Manifesto, we said that we would make road safety a high priority, that cycling and walking must be made safer especially around schools. As part of the New Deal for transport we will set a new road safety target for Great Britain for 201023 which we shall publish later this year. We will at the same time set out a strategy and programme of measures for achieving it.
To improve road safety and save lives, action must be taken across a number of fronts - including improvements in the behaviour of drivers, riders and pedestrians; enhancements in vehicle safety; better roads and road engineering; and better enforcement. It will also require the positive co-operation of many organisations, including local authorities; the police; schools; the motor manufacturers; and indeed all road users themselves and their associations. One of the main elements of the strategy will be to involve all these agencies in the achievement of the new target. We do not want to make roads safer by simply discouraging vulnerable groups from venturing on to roads.
Improving road safety
- reviewing the driving test and driver training, to develop a more effective test and better training techniques;
- improving road safety education in schools and by parents, by assessing the effectiveness of existing training aids and developing new ones;
- assessing local measures to achieve safer routes to school, and producing a best practice guide;
- surveying potential measures to ensure better compliance with speed limits in urban areas and on rural roads - the two most dangerous types of road;
- research into measures to improve vehicle safety and to ensure that they give maximum protection to occupants and minimise injury to pedestrians and cyclists.
We wish particularly to improve the safety of more vulnerable road users, including pedestrians (particularly children), cyclists and motorcyclists, in a way that is consistent with encouraging more cycling and walking. We want our children to be able to walk to school in safety: initiatives supporting safer routes to school will support both safety and environmental aims.
We will look at how to improve the safety of novice drivers - who are involved in nearly a fifth of the total number of casualty accidents - and at measures to reduce speed related accidents. Speed is thought to be a factor in about a third of all casualty accidents. In partnership with industry, we will encourage better driving by professional drivers - both lorry and bus drivers and those driving company cars on business (who are disproportionately involved in accidents).
Drink-driving is still a major cause of deaths, and we have consulted recently on proposals for a package of measures to combat this continuing problem24. These included possible measures to improve enforcement and education and we sought views on whether the current legal blood alcohol limit of some 80mg per 100ml should be reduced to 50mg. In the light of the responses to the consultation, we hope to announce our conclusions later this year.
Another major theme will be the scope for improving safety through the better enforcement of existing regulations.
Measures to improve road safety will also contribute to the efforts towards the proposed target in our Green Paper "Our Healthier Nation", to reduce the number of major accidents from all causes by one-fifth by 2010. All the relevant Government departments are collaborating to ensure consistency of approach on this.
The EU also has a role in promoting road safety. Amongst other things, it plays an important role in establishing technical standards for vehicles and has set up a number of working groups which have produced proposals on further measures to improve safety. We will continue to work with the EU on road safety initiatives, in particular on the development of higher vehicle safety standards, including those which minimise the impact of collisions on vulnerable road users.
- Working within the European Union
- supporting the FIA's "10 seconds which could save your life" campaign aimed at seat belt wearing and other safety measures;
- looking with the European Commission at EU-wide regulation of car advertising on TV using the UK's voluntary code of practice as a model. The code requires that adverts
- should not encourage or condone dangerous, inconsistent or competitive driving practices or breaches of the Highway Code
- should not portray speed in ways which might encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly or break the law
- should not include references to power or acceleration implying that speed limits may be exceeded and there must be no accompanying suggestion of excitement or aggression;
- pressing for EU regulation to make car fronts less dangerous for pedestrians involved in an accident;
- actively supporting the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro-NCAP) that provides comparative consumer information about the relative crashworthiness offered by new cars on sale to the public;
- saving lives by introducing front underrun guards on lorries - we will consult later this year on the introduction of regulations.
22. Boeing 737 taken as an example.
23. The Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland is carrying out a similar exercise.
Review of speed policy
Many measures that would help the achievement of the new road safety targets will bring wider benefits for integrated transport policy. Better enforcement of speed limits on all roads would reduce the number of accidents and their severity (see Chapter 4). Lower speeds combined with a more fuel efficient driving style could also bring environmental and social gains and in some circumstances could contribute to the more efficient use of roads in congested conditions.
But the precise balance between speed reduction for road safety, for social gains and for reducing vehicle emissions, including noise, is not fully understood. Many of the responses to the consultation suggested that we should review speed policy. We will therefore set up a review to develop a speed policy that takes account of the contribution of reduced speeds to environmental and social objectives as well as to road safety. We will consider issues such as driver attitudes and how behaviour can be improved through education and enforcement.
The review will examine how existing best practice in engineering, enforcement, education and publicity can be developed. The aim will be to develop a practical and cost-effective approach which meets our wider policy objectives.
The review will cover all types of road in Britain, both in town and country. We expect the review to take about one year to complete. We will consult widely, including those environmental groups who traditionally have not been involved in road safety matters.
- Speed-we will continue to campaign in the media to get across the rapidly increasing likelihood of serious accidents as speed increases;
- '20 mph zones'-we will continue to help local authorities fund traffic calming measures and make it easier to introduce 20 mph speed limits;
- speed and red light cameras-we are looking at the funding of cameras and their operation;
- cameras at road works-we will step up the practice of placing speed cameras at road works on motorways and trunk roads.
Despite the real and very welcome reduction in the number of motorcycling casualties in recent years (although last year reversed the trend) there were still over 24,000 motorcycle riders and their passengers killed or injured on roads in 1997-7.5% of all casualties but 14% of deaths and serious injuries. In built-up areas, motorcycles are three times more likely than a car to have an accident involving a pedestrian.
One of the concerns raised by motorcycle groups is that the high casualty rate of motorcyclists is due to vehicle drivers not taking enough account of their needs. We have therefore introduced more questions in the driving theory test to increase awareness of vulnerable road users, including motorcyclists. We are also considering what, if any, improvements need to be made to the practical car driving test.
Training has played an important part in reducing the number of casualties and we will consider how the road skills of riders can be further improved in the future. We will issue a consultation paper soon inviting views on the period of validity of provisional motorcycle licences.
Bus and coach safety
Buses and coaches have a good safety record. The operator licensing system, administered by the Traffic Commissioners, will continue to play a vital role in supervising entry to the bus industry and ensuring safe operation. The Vehicle Inspectorate also has an important role in enforcing road worthiness standards. These controls will remain and their effectiveness kept under review.
Investment in improving the quality of vehicles and infrastructure which will be encouraged by our policies for the bus industry should bring safety benefits in addition to encouraging public transport use.
Most bus passenger accidents are the result of falls on the bus or when getting off. But buses in towns are frequently involved in accidents with pedestrians, though the reasons for this are unclear. We plan further research on safety at bus stops. The siting of bus stops and location of crossings should take account of the need to minimise the risk of accidents, whilst encouraging a safer, more pleasant walking environment.
Other research projects are looking at bus passenger safety, and all casualties in accidents involving buses, coaches and minibuses to see if changes to the construction standards for these vehicles could improve safety for passengers and for other road users. It is now a requirement that seat belts are fitted on some seats in coaches and minibuses, and that a forward facing seat fitted with a seat belt is provided for children in these vehicles when on an organised trip.
We will also be consulting on changes to require the fitting of seat belts on all seats in new buses, coaches and minibuses which do not carry standing passengers. All these measures are designed to make bus travel safer and, thus, to encourage bus use.
At present there are differences between EU Regulations which govern drivers' hours, (affecting most HGV drivers and around half of the bus and coach drivers in the UK), and UK domestic legislation, (affecting mainly bus and coach drivers and some HGV operations). There is scope for confusion and some difficulty in enforcing the UK legislation which does not require the use of tachographs. The Transport Select Committee has recommended25 that domestic drivers' hours rules be phased out in favour of the EU rules. We therefore propose to consult on legislative changes which would bring most operations within the scope of the EU rules.
The Commission is currently considering an extension of the Working Time Directive to the transport sector. We support this in principle. There is no reason why transport workers, including professional drivers, should not have the same level of protection against working excessive hours as workers in other sectors. It will, however, be necessary to preserve some flexibility and to take proper account of complicating factors such as the relationship between working time and drivers' hours (for workers covered by drivers' hours regulation), between third party and own account transport operations and between employed and self-employed workers.
25 Fifth Report of the Transport Committee, House of Commons Session 1995-96, on the adequacy and enforcement of regulations governing heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches, HoC Paper 356-I.
Already rail is one of the safest forms of travel and the long term improvement in rail safety is continuing. But the Chief Inspector of Railways has warned that some operators have tried to avoid taking measures to improve rail safety standards, or worse still, to reduce them26. It is vital to ensure that there is no erosion of safety standards in the privatised railway. Existing standards of health and safety must be maintained and, where necessary, improved. Operators must not put commercial considerations ahead of safety.
The Health and Safety Commission (HSC), together with its operational arm the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which includes the Railway Inspectorate, is the independent regulatory body responsible for railway safety. The Railway Inspectorate has comprehensive powers to enforce the wide-ranging duties of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA) and associated Regulations.
A new safety regime for the privatised railway was put in place in 1994. It reflects Railtrack's and train operating companies' obligations under the HSWA to operate safely. Railtrack has responsibilities for both setting and enforcing safety standards. The single most important element in the regime is a requirement for each operator to prepare, and obtain acceptance of, a 'safety case'- a detailed document describing the operator's risk assessments and safety management systems. The regime also gave Railtrack wide-ranging responsibilities for both setting and enforcing safety standards.
We are determined to ensure, as part of improving the railways in the interests of passengers, that safety is not compromised.
The Health and Safety Commission fully shares this resolve. It has recently gone out to formal consultation on draft regulations to oblige the privatised industry to replace or modify Mark 1 (ie slam-door) rolling stock by 2003 and to install train protection (which would apply the brake automatically in danger situations) on all trains and at all key signals by 2004. Mark 1 rolling stock has been criticised because of how it performs in certain types of accidents. The Commission has recommended that all Mark 1 rolling stock be withdrawn by 1 January 2003 unless it has been rebodied by then (in which case it can remain in service indefinitely) or it has been modified to prevent one vehicle overriding another in the event of a crash (in which case the modified stock can remain in service only until 1 January 2007).
The Commission has brought forward its planned review of Railtrack's role in setting safety standards. As recommended in the recent report from the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Select Committee27, the Commission will be focusing on the functions and responsibilities of Railtrack's Safety and Standards Directorate and whether those functions and responsibilities should remain with Railtrack or should be located elsewhere. In the meantime, the HSE will continue its independent monitoring, investigation and enforcement of railway safety.
The DETR's newly formed Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is responsible for developing, promoting and enforcing marine safety standards for the UK and for organising the response to incidents at sea and on the coast, whether they involve danger to life or to the environment. To form the new Agency, we brought together from 1 April 1998 the former Marine Safety and Coastguard agencies.
Our aim has been to create a single, better integrated, Agency; able to carry out its functions more effectively. For example, the new Agency will be able to use its combined presence around the coast to improve its oversight of leisure craft and fishing vessels, taking an integrated approach to information and education for crews, and to the monitoring and implementation of safety standards; and it will be better placed to enhance the surveillance and control of traffic through the Dover Straits, the busiest sea lane in the world.
Coastguards on watch 24 hours a day
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency will continue to maintain a 24-hour co-ordinating capability for the UK Search and Rescue Region. Designated rescue centres are constantly manned by Coastguard personnel, highly trained in search and rescue procedures.
The safety of passengers and crew at sea is vital. We believe strongly in accident prevention. The new Agency will therefore continue the work of its predecessors in the setting, inspection and enforcement of maritime safety standards. These standards are based primarily on those agreed internationally by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), strengthened in some cases by regional agreements with our EU partners and other North European countries. The MCA will pay particular attention to the safety of passenger ferries and of bulk carriers and vessels carrying hazardous or polluting cargoes.
The MCA will itself enforce safety standards on UK-registered ships. It will also play its full part with our neighbours in enforcing standards on foreign ships through 'port state control'. This will include enforcement of the IMO's International Safety Management (ISM) Code which came into force on 1 July 1998. The ISM Code has broken new ground in seeking to develop a safety culture embracing operations both on ship and ashore. But the only wholly effective way of improving the safety of foreign shipping will be by improving the performance of those flag states, including a number of flags of convenience, who fail to fulfil their commitments under the IMO's Conventions. So the MCA will pursue the campaign of the UK and other like-minded states in the IMO to agree binding and enforceable criteria for the performance by flag states of their obligations.
We will also look to the MCA to take forward new tasks in relation to ports. Among these will be overseeing effective waste management planning by ports and helping to develop and monitor a new port safety code (see Chapter 4) that we propose to draw up in the light of the official accident report on the grounding of the oil tanker Sea Empress at the entrance to Milford Haven in 1996.
Effective accident investigation is a key contributor to marine safety. Recent years have seen enormous advances in the technology for locating, exploring and photographing wreckage on the seabed, as was dramatically shown recently by the investigation of the MV Derbyshire that we co-financed with the European Commission, the report on which was published in March 1998.
26 "Railway Safety, HM Chief Inspector of Railways' Annual Report on the safety record of the railways in Great Britain during 1996/97".
27 Third Report of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, House of Commons Session 1997-8, on the proposed Strategic Rail Authority and Rail Regulation, HoC paper 286-I, March 1998.
28 Fourth Report of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, House of Commons Session 1997-8, on Air Traffic Control, HoC paper 360-I, March 1998.
29 Third and Fourth Reports of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, House of Commons Session 1997-8, March 1998.