Gus MacDonald Transport minister
Welcome to the show!
There is, as I am sure you can tell, a buzz of excitement in the civil engineering world at the moment, a feeling that after years of inertia something is beginning to happen. And you would be right. After the budget we announced support for £500M of light rail extensions to the highly successful Manchester Metro Link and the £100M Docklands Light Rail link to London City Airport.
We have suffered from years of underfunding and under investment in our transport industry. That attitude has changed. Total spending on roads in England in 2000/01 will be £3.7bn; by 2002 spending on all roads maintenance will have increased by 20 percent in cash terms; and over the next few years £1.5bn will be spent building and improving major trunk road schemes and bypasses.
We intend to invest money in roads as well as public transport - both are vital to a modern transport system. And all road improvements must now pass the new appraisal criteria set out in our Roads Review.
We have also made clear there must be more investment in the railways: Investment not only to maintain and renew the existing infrastructure, but also to expand it; investment to accommodate the predicted increase in passengers and freight; investment to ensure the railway is a safe and comfortable experience; and investment to help deliver the integrated transport strategy and relieve congestion and pollution on the roads.
Achieving this investment requires a partnership between infrastructure providers, Railtrack in particular, and the construction industry.
The Channel Tunnel Rail Link, West Coast and East Coast Main Line upgrades and Thameslink 2000 are but the highlights in a programme of work which will stretch across the country.
There is so much already under way, and so much more to be done.
The Government's 10 year plan for transport, building on Railtrack's Network Management Statement and the strategy of the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority, will set out the framework for taking forward a major long-term programme of rail infrastructure improvement.
The Government looks to the civil engineering industry to join with it in partnership to help modernise and upgrade the rail and road system this country deserves today and will need in the future.