STRONG DOUBTS emerged this week about the Government's ability to deliver its 10 year transport plan, published just eight months ago.
Transport experts said the Government's 10 year transport plan is already out of date and its targets for building new infrastructure should be redrawn or scrapped.
They urged the Government to revise the £180bn plan as soon as possible as planned investment in the road and rail sectors was already showing signs of slippage.
Local authorities are also becoming increasingly opposed to congestion charging, which is intended to fund many vital infrastructure improvements.
At the same time DETR officials are understood to have privately accepted that the 10 year plan, launched last July, will take 15 years to complete.
Imperial College transport infrastrucure professor Stephen Glaister is to publish a paper today urging the Government to review the plan immediately.
'It should be used for its proper purpose: as a framework for ordered debate about policy, rather than as a forecast over a 10 year period, ' he said.
'The current plan needs to be revisited since circumstances have changed, ' he said. It was 'reasonable to anticipate' plans to build 25 light rail schemes 'will not all be realised'.
NCE understands that the plan - originally due for review in July 2002 - could be set for a major shake up after the Treasury's spending review in September.
Contractors this week questioned targets in the plan.
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association said the Highways Agency's newly launched business plan shows projected spending at £260M less than the £5.3bn set out in the plan for the next three years.
Local authorities are now also warning that the target to halt the deterioration in road condition by 2004 is unrealistic due to £100M of extra damage to local roads caused by heavy rains over the last 12 months.
MPs also doubt the Government's ability to drive through improvements on the railways under the 10 year plan.
Today the Environment Transport and the Regions select committee urged the Government to put more money into the railways to ensure traffic is diverted off the roads.
'We recommend. . . that the Government considers the case for providing additional financial support to the industry and in particular to the rail freight sector, to ensure that it meets targets for increasing traffic by 2010, ' says a report published by the committee.
There are also fears that the number of rail projects in the plan will need scaling down as a result of the Hatfield rail crash.
Railtrack has diverted hundreds of millions of pounds into the re-railing programme and into compensation to train operating companies.
Its deteriorating financial position is raising doubts about its ability to fund future rail improvements and it is under pressure to outsource major projects to privately financed consortia (NCE last week).
Irving Yass, head of transport policy at lobby group London First, said he doubted whether London's Crossrail proposal was making progress fast enough to be built within 10 years as projected in the plan.
The project is still awaiting the green light from deputy prime minister John Prescott even though it has the backing of the Strategic Rail Authority.
A DETR spokesperson told NCE this week: 'The plan is constantly under review and there is a team working on it full time. We are still in the early stages but we still expect to meet the targets.'