London, 30 Nov 1999.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

Panorama Rail Shambles Shows Drivers Being Caned For Nothing
Time to Stop Taking our Transport Infrastructure For Granted
The BBC Panorama programme screened on Monday 29 November clearly demonstrated what the British public already know - that the rail network is hopelessly congested and utterly incapable of handling even a modest increase in demand from either passengers or freight.

Meanwhile, Prescottís notorious "integrated transport policy" is loaded with measures to make the life of the car driver a complete misery, hoping to force him onto this creaking and collapsing rail network.

Prescottís "solution" involves:

"It is almost unbelievable that Prescott thinks he can get away with this," says ABD Chairman Brian Gregory. "But he nearly has. At his behest, many local councils like Oxfordshire are engaged in a wilful campaign to obstruct and inconvenience British citizens going about their lawful business."

"These Councils neither know nor apparently care that public transport can never be an acceptable alternative for more than a fraction of the people they are deliberately inconveniencing, because they havenít made any effort to find out. Now we know that the rail system is as hopelessly congested as our strategic roads, and so useless for almost ALL the people they are obstructing, it is time for them to be taken to task by their citizens for implementing wholly negative policies based on political dogma."

To add insult to injury for the unfortunate travelling public, the sum required over TEN years to bridge the gap between what can be raised privately and what is required for the railways is seventeen billion pounds. The treasury makes more than this EVERY YEAR as a surplus from mobility taxes over and above all transport subsidies and costs - the thirty five billion taken annually from the car and truck driver makes sure of that.

"The truth of the matter," continues Gregory, "is that we have had forty years of anti transport policy - thirty years of minimal investment in roads whilst rail got nothing, followed by ten years of miserable anti car rhetoric."

All this time, the Treasury has been coining in revenue from the car driver and squandering it on bureaucracy rather than ploughing it back into transport. At the same time, planning decisions have been made which take this struggling transport infrastructure for granted, leading inevitably to the congestion we see today.

The answer to these ills is to abandon the negative, anti car ITP and produce a positive, intelligent vision for transport in Britain. The ABD has a common-sense three point plan for the Government to ponder:

  1. 1. Stop obstructing, blaming and punishing people and find out what their transport requirements actually are, and why.
  2. 2. Invest much more of the £35bn raised annually from Britainís drivers in road and rail infrastructure - a balanced investment in providing Britain with the transport it needs rather than a politically motivated lurching from one negative extreme to another.
  3. 3. Planning guidelines which concentrate on reducing the need to travel by clustering housing, jobs and retail development together rather than simply spreading it out and then trying to prevent the journeys so created by making them difficult, expensive and unpleasant.
It is time to listen to the ABD and other voices raised against the current policy direction and to allow those who are driving this policy forward to be publicly questioned and challenged more rigorously than has been the case to date.


Notes for Editors