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Transport spending will mean civils bonanza

THE UK CIVIL engineering industry is gearing up for a construction bonanza after the Government announced its 10- year transport plan last month.

A mixture of public and private financing, to the tune of £180bn, will be spent on transport over the next decade, of which £132bn will come from the public purse.

Two-thirds will be spent on public transport schemes, with up to 25 new tram and light rail systems built and 100 new park and ride schemes set up.

The rest will go on road improvements, including construction of 30 new bypasses of 'national importance' and 70 local bypasses, as well as 580km of trunk road and motorway widening.

Ministers also promised to eliminate the considerable backlog in road maintenance by 2010 through a £30bn programme.

Road congestion is forecast to increase by 15% by 2010, but the Government believes the transport plan will lead to a 6% decrease from current levels in 10 years.

It is also introducing a new £7bn rail modernisation fund to 'lever in' private capital to the rail system. The Government expects the number of train passengers to increase by 50% nationwide by 2010 and the amount of freight travelling by rail to increase by 80%.

Announcing the plans, deputy prime minister John Prescott said joint capital investment by government and business would be 75% more in real terms than over the past decade.

He acknowledged that this was not all new money but said that even if this year's spending was maintained as the norm, there would be an extra £50bn of public expenditure.

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