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30th CfIT plenary meeting - 18 March 2004

Agenda

1: Minutes of the Last Meeting and Matters Arising

2: 2004 Work Programme

3: European Transport Issues
briefing by John Stevens, DfT

4: Road Pricing and Congestion Measurement
presentation by DfT

5: Traffic Management Bill and Implications for Bus Policy
presentation by Mike Talbot, DfT

6: CfIT Communications Strategy

7: Media Report
briefing by Martin Helm, CfIT Media Advisor

8: The following papers will be taken as read:

Minutes

Present:

Professor David Begg (Chair), Sir Trevor Chinn (Vice-Chair), Andy Braithwaite, Richard Bowker, Stewart Francis, Sir Michael Hodgkinson, Helen Holland, Stephen Joseph, David Leeder, Lilli Matson, Sir Bill Morris, Mike Parker, Michael Roberts, Archie Robertson, Baroness Ros Scott.

Paul Collins (DfT Observer), Steve Guyon, Richard Mace, Martin Helm, Katie Allister, John Stevens (item 3), Steve Gooding (item 4), David Lamberti (item 4), Mouna Kehil (item 4), Mike Talbot (item 5).

Apologies for absence
Apologies were received from Neil Betteridge, Lawrence Christensen, Sir Roy McNulty and Neil Scales.

1. Minutes of the Last Meeting and Matters Arising

1.1 The minutes of the last meeting were agreed as circulated. All actions had been addressed. The Chair raised the following points under matters arising:

Recruitment of new CfIT members
It is regular practice for board membership of NDPBs such as CfIT to be refreshed every few years. The contracts of the Vice-Chair, Lawrence Christensen and Lilli Matson would expire at the end of June. DfT were in the process of recruiting a new Vice-Chair and two new members, to be in post for the beginning of July.

Liverpool
The next plenary would be held in Liverpool on 19 and 20 May. The Chair had written to Neil Scales, CfIT member and Chief Executive of Merseytravel for his assistance with the itinerary.

DfT Senior Staff Changes
Willy Rickett would leave the Department on secondment for 12 months on 4 October. David McMillan, Director of Strategy and Delivery, is to take up the post of Director of Aviation after Easter. An announcement regarding replacements would be made in due course.

Action: Secretariat to circulate copies of the latest DfT management structure.

2. 2004 Work Programme

2.1 The first Governance Board meeting was held with DfT on 17 February. It was agreed that CfIT would provide advice on various issues to inform the review of transport strategy. CfIT would also research and formulate advice on the following areas:

2.2 Members discussed their approach to the "Integration Across Government Departments" project. The Chair intended to write to the DPM and Secretaries of State for Health and Education, setting out CfIT's approach to the study. The study would cover the following areas:

It was agreed that the project would also incorporate the workstream on spatial policy and transport.

2.3 Members agreed the Thames Gateway development, which resonated with a number of cross-departmental Government initiatives, would be an ideal case study for the project. Eastern England including the M11 corridor was also cited as a potential case study. The recently announced Barker review of housing supply was cited by members as an important area for consideration as part of the project.

2.4 The work would be overseen by a working group including Lilli Matson, Helen Holland, Sir Michael Hodgkinson and Stewart Francis.

3. European Transport Issues

3.1 The Chair welcomed John Stevens, head of DfT's Europe Division, to brief the Commission on transport developments across Europe.

3.2 The European Union was half-way through its Irish presidency. Lorry charging (the 'Eurovignette' directive) was currently the centrepiece of the European transport agenda. The Council of Ministers was attempting to reach agreement on its own position quickly, while in parallel the European Parliament was debating the same measure. The proposals would apply exclusively to lorries and would not directly affect any potential proposals for road charging for domestic vehicles in the UK. It was not proving easy to reach agreement in either body. However, we should note that the principle of including external costs like congestion and environmental damage in road charging had been rejected by the Commission, most member states and most MEPs in favour of the recovery of costs of investment and maintenance. That was a disappointment. However, in negotiation the UK working with others had secured sufficient flexibility in the proposed rules to be able to raise the revenues needed for the UK's lorry charge and to vary the charge by reference to congestion and environmental factors.

3.3 The Trans-European Network comprised major road and rail routes across the EU, together with key airports and sea ports. A new list of 30 priority projects had been agreed. UK projects included road links from Liverpool to Hull and rail links from Felixstowe to Nuneaton and Crewe to Hollyhead, which in consequence would receive a small grant-aid from the European Commission. The Commission would monitor progress on these schemes and the package would be at risk if one or more component were to be significantly delayed. They were also reviewing their appraisal systems. Lorry charging had been seen by the European Commission as a source of revenue for the Trans-European Network. The UK could not accept a EU requirement that lorry charges should be earmarked for transport investment and expected to win sufficient support from other countries to resist a mandatory rule to that effect.

3.4 The EU was in the process of agreeing a series of three rail packages. The proposals were aimed at opening up, progressively, international rail freight routes, national and regional freight routes, and lastly international routes for passengers. A new European Rail Agency would be set up to provide technical advice to the Commission on safety and interoperability. Proposals were also being drawn up for licensing of international train drivers, international passenger rights and compensation for serious delivery delays to rail freight.

4. Road Charging and Congestion Measurement

4.1 The Chair welcomed Steve Gooding, David Lamberti and Mouna Kehil from DfT's Road and Vehicles Directorate and invited them to update the Commission on DfT's Road Charging Feasibility Study and congestion measurement work. In July 2003, the Secretary of State established a feasibility study examining the practical options for the design and implementation of a new system for charging for road use in the UK. Options were being considered on three levels: national, urban and inter-urban.

4.2 A national system of charging was desirable, but the precise nature of the scheme would require further work. Major factors for consideration were the economics of a suitable pricing structure and the required technology. Satellite systems exist in some cars, but we are some years away from technical competence to run a distance-based charging scheme which varies by time and place across the UK. Such a scheme had yet to be tested anywhere in the world. Retrofitting of vehicles carried significant risks such as safety and costs. Members commented that an early introduction of the technology to new vehicles would reduce the risks.

4.3 At the urban level, the London charging scheme had been successful, but flat rate schemes have their limitations in terms of the area of coverage, exemptions and targeting. A more graduated scheme, based on time and place and the amount of driving would be a significant prize. The steering group were considering what incentives were available for incentivising motorists to opt in to in-car technology.

4.4 At the inter-urban level, existing microwave technology could probably be used for charging on motorways and was capable of identifying vehicles, even in free flow conditions. However, the issue of diversion remained a problem.

4.5 DfT was developing its congestion monitoring programme, harnessing new data obtained through developments in technology. DfT had commissioned research to look at potential data sources. Data collated using GPS technology offered a valuable network-wide source. DfT statisticians were developing analytical tools in order to achieve a better understanding of the raw data, including reflection of congestion hotspots, major roadworks, and seasonal variation. The Department was also working in partnership with local authorities, developing indicators for urban congestion and developing good practice in congestion monitoring.

4.6 CfIT recognised that the work being taken forward through the DfT's Road Charging Feasibility Study appeared comprehensive. Members highlighted the need for the charging agenda to resonate with Government fiscal policy. The pros and cons of each potential fiscal policy option needed to be presented in order to inform the public debate. Members considered that CfIT might have a complementary role to play in ensuring there was an informed public debate on what were complex issues, and would consider this further once the feasibility study had reported.

4.7 DfT would report on the outcome of the feasibility study in the Summer, which would form the basis for further work. It was noted that two CfIT members - Stephen Joseph and Michael Roberts - were also members of the Road Pricing Feasibility Study steering group.

5. Traffic Management Bill and Implications for Bus Policy

5.1 Mike Talbot, Head of DfT's Traffic Management Division briefed the Commission on the progress of the Traffic Management Bill and its implications for local bus strategies. The Bill aimed to tackle congestion and reduce disruption by:

5.2 The Bill intended to provide local authorities additional powers to manage local road networks, with greater control over obstructions such as utilities street works and lane rental for skips and scaffolding, complemented by a new network management duty which would also apply to the planning of their own works, their use of traffic management techniques and clearance of incidents. For bus users, the new network management duty applied to all traffic, including buses. This and new civil enforcement powers would benefit general traffic movement and so help buses. The powers would also enhance bus priority measures, with local authorities having greater control of box junctions, bus "gates", pedestrian and bus zones.

5.3 The Bill was expected to receive a second reading in the House of Lords in April. Royal Assent was possible before the summer recess.

6. CfIT Communications Strategy

6.1 Commission members discussed their strategy for internal and external communications and agreed on an appropriate strategy. Members considered CfIT's contact programme with external stakeholders. In future, members would report back on contract programme meetings, particularly to inform the shaping of future work programmes. The Secretariat would write to members regarding time commitment and potential organisations for regular contact.

Action: Secretariat to write to members regarding the CfIT contact programme.

7. Media Report

7.1 Press coverage of transport issues in the past two months had been dominated by DfT's rail review, the first anniversary of the London congestion charge and safety cameras. CfIT had participated in the debate on all three issues through a combination of planned, opportunistic and reactive media engagement. [Media Report - March 2004].

8. The following were noted and approved:

Date of Next Meeting

The next plenary meeting would be held on Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 May in Liverpool.

CfIT Secretariat
April 2004