We have a new government but, Stephen Glaister asserts, transport did not receive much attention during the election campaign. Everybody wants and expects the economy to recover. Few dispute that demographic and social changes will further increase the demands on an already-congested road and railway system. In this annual ICE TRF lecture Glaister asks: ‘what should the new government do?’

During the election campaign all the main parties had advocated High Speed Rail networks and improvements to the existing rail services. Glaister asserts that policies on roads have been overshadowed and yet road users account for nine out of every ten passengers by distance and carry a similar proportion of freight. At a time when it seems inevitable that there will be significant cuts in national and local public expenditures, Glaister finds it unclear how plans for rail would be paid for and suggests that nobody has a coherent strategy for investment and how the strategic road transport networks will be financed.

Glaister asks several key questions, the answers to which he feels will lead to an overhaul of attitude to transport policy, and investment in our road and rail networks. What are the transport needs and how should the new government tackle them? What should be the balance between public transport and private transport? How are the funds to be raised to make good our historical underinvestment in capacity and maintenance of our transport infrastructure? Where should we be investing to meet future needs for mobility and the environment? And could administrative and governance reform offer a way for the private individual to fund the level of service that they want and the nation needs?

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