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Transport spending cash locked up until autumn

EXTRA CASH for transport from chancellor Gordon Brown's Comprehensive Spending Review will not be allocated to specific projects until the autumn, it emerged this week.

Government spending on transport will rise by 12% a year over the next three years.

But sources close to the Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed that precise funding allocations to projects would not appear until a review of the 10 year transport plan is published in the autumn.

An extra £1bn a year has also been pledged to make payments to privately funded consortia upgrading London Underground.

On the rail network the government confirmed that £1.9bn would be brought forward from the end of the 10 year plan spend to boost improvements.

Industry bodies this week said they were disappointed that no new funding was announced.

Business lobbyists the CBI had earlier urged the government to find an extra £2bn a year of new money to get the 10 year transport plan back on track.

'At first glance transport seems to have done well out of the spending review but this is money simply recycled from previous announcements, ' said Transport 2000 director Stephen Joseph.

The only previously unannounced funding was an extra £370M over the next three years, brought forward from the later years of the plan to 'accelerate delivery'.

The DfT has struggled to deliver transport schemes since launching the 10 year transport plan in July 2000 and was reported to be £300M underspent on its budget last year.

Under the review the government will spend £4bn more on transport in 2005-06 than it does this year.

Transport spending will be £7.66bn for 2002-03, £10.69bn for 2003-04, £11.19bn for 2004-2005 and £11.64bn for 2005-06.

Other transport announcements that came with the spending review included making the target to cut the time it takes to build a road more ambitious. It currently takes up to 10 years, which would be cut to five to seven years. The Department for Transport and the Highways Agency will now work towards an average delivery of four to six years.

The DfT will also start working with local authorities on local traffic congestion busting targets.

These would act as performance indicators for schemes in which local authorities gain funding through their Local Transport Plans.

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