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Meet the future

Britain's first integrated transport event launches next month. NCE looks at how the Interchange thinktank could influence government policy. Damian Arnold reports.

Turning the dream of integrated transport into reality will take 'a new way of working', we are told. Radical changes are needed in planning, financing and operating the transport projects of the future to make it possible for the public to make a convenient journey using various types of transport without having to rely on the car.

These have been the expectations since the launch of the Integrated Transport White Paper nearly two and half years ago.

The £180bn to kick start the integrated transport revolution is now confirmed and the legislation in place, but the industry is still waiting for this 'new way of working'.

Is this why the Government is keen to use Interchange to set the agenda for its developing integrated transport policy?

The two day conference at London's Docklands Excel arena will inform government decisions on how to achieve its goal of creating functional interchanges nationwide.

Day two of the conference - known as Interchange Exchange - will see delegates split into nine working parties to debate the objectives set by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and its adviser, the Commission for Integrated Transport. The talks are expected to evolve into research projects with the results presented to Government.

Interchange offers business opportunities for exhibiting firms, while trail blazing integrated transport projects will be recognised at an awards ceremony at London's Hilton.

'By bringing together the leading players from the transport and construction worlds, Interchange will encourage innovative thinking, the exchange of ideas and the definition of a market place for the next decade, ' says president and former Tory transport minister Steve Norris.

'For this reason I am delighted to be a part of it. I would urge all those companies that see this new market as an opportunity to get similarly involved.'

Keynote speakers - such as minister for transport Lord Gus MacDonald - will set the scene on issues such as progress on multi-modal studies.

Any questions? Then ask the Interchange Question Time panel which includes shadow minister for transport Bernard Jenkin, chairman of the strategic rail authority Sir Alastair Morton, and minister for London Keith Hill.

Showcase solutions

David McAllister, managing Director Europe, Africa and Middle East of US consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff.

'We are involved in many interchange projects for the US, Hong Kong and Singapore. Our particular area has been modelling how people move through interchange terminals, which feeds into our designs of stairs and escalators.

'We have also done a lot of work on fire safety at interchanges, particularly underground.

'We want to identify clients in the UK looking for that type of service.

We have 1,500 staff in the UK and three quarters of them working in transport. Railtrack and the Highways Agency are our major clients but we want to expand.'

Showcase solutions

Will Gard, partner, Bevan Ashford Solicitors, Bristol.

'We are experienced in advising on public private partnerships in hospitals and schools and are keen to look at the current prospects for PPP within local transport projects such as Bristol''s proposed light rail project scheme.

'We want to raise our profile and network with other like-minded businesses such as Bristol City Council. We both have stands at Showcase and we are hoping to join with them at the awards ceremony.'

Gard wants to talk to other local authorities and also rail operating companies looking to deliver privately financed projects.

He is keen to find out how project delivery will be streamlined. 'We have the technical solutions but the planning, procurement and funding solutions are still being talked about, ' he says.

Gard also wants to discuss how promised revenue from workplace parking levies and congestion charging schemes can be used to lever in private finance for transport schemes.

'There are all sorts of options out there, ' he says.

10 year plan

The Government's 10 year transport plan promises 25 light rail schemes including networks in Nottingham, Sunderland, Bristol, Southampton and Leeds.

Extensions are expected to the networks in Manchester and Birmingham and to the Docklands Light Railway in London. Two new lines are expected to be built in London.

The Central Edinburgh Rapid Transit Scheme in Edinburgh will lead guided busway plans.

Similar schemes are expected in Liverpool, Cambridge, Oxford and Northampton.

For under-served urban areas, links will be provided by the Urban Bus Challenge Fund, while in rural areas the promise is an hourly bus services within a 10 minute walk for a third more households. Funding in rural Britain will also cover community transport projects such as minibus and taxi-based schemes.

The green transport lobby, appalled by plans for 100 new road bypasses, may be appeased at promises of 100 park and ride schemes.

London is earmarked for several new interchanges as part of extensions to the East London Line and Docklands Light Railway. Look out for the west/east London CrossRail project finally getting off the ground along with the East Thames River Crossing.

Over £60bn will be spent on the railways and cash to upgrade the East Coast and West Coast Main Lines and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link will spawn new interchanges.

Local authorities will be allocated £60bn to spend over the next 10 years, boosted by revenue from taxes on workplace parking and schemes to charge drivers to enter towns and cities.

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