Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

The road to where

Previous transport revolutions have come about because new technology seemed so much better than its predecessor, that huge investments of cash and effort were made in switching to the new mode. Canals superseded horse- drawn carts. Steam-hauled railway trains beat canals in speed and economy. Then the internal combustion engine and pneumatic tyres gave road transport an edge.

However, this week the Government's Integrated Transport White Paper is not so much a revolution as an attempt to defy the lessons of history. The Deputy Prime Minister plans the introduction - in about three years time - of handicapping measures that artificially reduce the advantages of cars to free up other, less destructive, transport modes.

Such interventionism also appears at odds with New Labour's approach, or even - increasingly - Prescott himself.

Contrast how the Egan report, the other Government initative to demand the profession's attention this week and also initiated by Prescott, and its free-market philosophy with the regulation-creating Latham Review instigated by the Tories.

So as well as forging a route largely unexplored by Britan's transport planners, he risks ambush by his own side. All of which raises significant questions over the chances of him reaching transport Nirvana - a place where the need for daily travel is massively reduced and people accept the restrictions this brings.

The White Paper contains enough innovative solutions to difficult problems to wish New Labour's number two well on his journey. We can only hope that his Jaguar is freshly serviced and full of petrol.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.