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. . . as transport experts stake claim to spend

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New container ports, expansion of regional airports, a new high speed railway network and a tighter grip on road congestion are all issues a new transport advisory study should look into, transport experts said this week.

Suggestions from consultants and economists came after Chancellor Gordon Brown used last week's Budget to announce that British Airways chief executive Rod Eddington has been appointed to look into Britain's transport needs.

Eddington, who leaves British Airways in September, will begin work jointly with the Department for Transport and the Treasury to 'understand the long term impact that future decisions will have on UK productivity, growth and stability'.

The project builds on 30-year proposals presented in last summer's Future of Transport White Paper, and covers the whole of the UK.

Eddington has been a strong advocate of airport expansion in the UK. But he will need to look much more at roads and rail, said Scott Wilson director for transport Jerome Munro-Lafon. Growth in the many regional airports might be part of an answer.

The Association of Consultancy & Engineering economic policy director Irun Malik said road congestion was a key issue. So was the repairs backlog for rural roads.

'We should see ring fencing of road money which goes to the regional development agencies who might allocate it elsewhere, ' she said.

Others called for a new rail network appropriate to the 21st century to be considered. Crossrail was a key issue for all. The nettle of a new container port facility in the Thames Estuary or Southampton should also be grasped.

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