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ICE Transport Board member Terry Mulroy assesses the 10 year plan.

IN 1963 civil engineer Colin Buchanan produced the first integrated transport report: Traffic in towns, which acknowledged that we could not create enough road space to accommodate future traffic demand. It also called for segregation of pedestrians and cyclists and created the concept of environmental capacity.

The following decades saw transport development concentrate on single mode issues. In the 1960s Beeching closed many of the rail feeder lines we are now trying the reopen. From 1960 to 1980 the UK saw a boom in road building unprecedented since the formation of the turnpike trusts 250 years earlier or even the great Roman Era. The Conservative Government's Roads for Prosperity in 1990 represented the last gasp of single mode transport planning.

The latest transport plan will help redress the under investment of the last 25 years. In 1975 we spent 2.2% of our national GDP as public expenditure on transport. By 1997 that figure had dropped to 0.7%.

Expenditure such as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link is already committed along with administrative costs - which presumably includes local and central government salaries and consultants' fees. An allowance for inflation could knock £20bn to £30bn off the total in real terms, even if Government targets are not breached.

The ICE has lobbied for many years for more money to be spent on highway maintenance. Good maintenance may even reduce aggression and encourage better driving. Remember also that maintenance includes signs, carriageway markings and street lighting, all of which can assist accident reduction and smooth flow and reduce lost mileage, all of which will provide small but important benefits. A transport system to compare with our continental neighbours will be achieved by a large number of small changes rather than a small number of large changes.

The £60.4bn allocated to rail will be applauded by everyone.

Passenger numbers are probably increasing as fast as at any time since the heyday of railway construction and the need for greater capacity for passengers and freight is very evident.

The inclusion of new targets and indicators will encourage all transport professionals who find considerable difficulty in interpreting objectives such as 'encouraging greater use of public transport' or 'reducing harmful emissions'. The targets are tough but there is no reason why they should not be attainable; cycle usage has a long way to go but a 75% increase in railfreight should be realistic.

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