Some notes on Transport

Transport policy has lurched from initiative to initiative for decades, punctuated by the occasional attempts to develop an overarching strategy. At the core is the diversity of approach between roads and railways. Road users pay petrol and diesel taxes, and they pay a road licence fee. Rail users pay for the track access charges, the rolling stock and the train operators. Rail is largely untaxed; roads are heavily taxed through the fuel duties in particular. Buses are treated differently too.

The result is that there is no consistency in price signals between the two, and in effect there are separate road and rail policies. Any attempt to shift between the modes relies on government spending and this in turn falls under the broader constraints of national and local government spending controls. 

Much focus has been applied to Network Rail and to the big projects, such as HS2 and Crossrail 1 & 2. Network Rail managed, under the protection of the government guarantee to rack up over £30 billion of debt, with no prospect of repaying most (if indeed any) of it. Its management failures are well documented in endless reports. The task now is focused on breaking up parts of it, as much to limit the scope for further failures as in the intention of applying a rational structure.

Aviation is dealt with almost entirely separately - to the extent that the road and rail connections to a new possible runway in the Southeast appear to be of limited importance to policy makers. HS2 is will not be connected directly to Heathrow, and indeed it will not even be connected to HS1.  

 

Latest Publication

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What to do about the railways?

September 22, 2015

Transport Publication

Despite the sharp rise in demand and therefore revenue, it is widely agreed that the railways are in a mess. A significant proportion of the electorate think that renationalisation is the answer, and indeed Network Rail itself has been renationalised. Alt

Publications

  • Publication Transport Introduction to 'Air Transport and Infrastructure'
    November 1, 2013

    In D. Helm and D. Holt (eds.), 'Air Transport and Infrastructure: The Challenges Ahead', published November 2003 by Oxera, pp. 1-4. In committing itself to providing a 30-year framework for air transport policy, the government recognised that the existing
  • Publication Transport What do to about the roads?
    September 22, 2012

    Paper on the current state of our roads
  • Publication Transport Reforming Airport Regulation
    June 11, 2007

    The current debate about the future of airport regulation in the UK has arisen for a variety of reasons, which have together built up a substantive case for reform. In addition to the customer and airline complaints on the quality of service, the takeover
  • Publication Transport DTI Transport committee inquiry into The Future of the Railways
    September 10, 2003

    The government set out a new direction for transport policy in its integrated transport strategy White Paper, 'A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone', published in July 1998. This was followed by the 'Ten Year Plan'. A new era for the railways exp
  • Publication Transport Inquiry into Passenger Rail Franchising and the Future of Railways Infrastructure
    March 8, 2002

    Memorandum of Evidence submitted to the House of Commons Inquiry into Passenger Rail Franchising and the Future of Railway Infrastructure. This memorandum reviews the reasons for the failure of the Strategy Rail Authority's (SRA) refranchising strategy, c
  • Publication Transport Transport Sub-committee Inquiry into Passenger Rail Franchising
    September 13, 2001

    This memorandum reviews the reasons for the failure of the Strategy Rail Authority's (SRA) refranchising strategy, comments on the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions' (DTLR) draft policy statement, and, in the light of the decision
  • Publication Transport Whither the Railways?
    May 21, 2001

    A Comment on "Phoenix from the Ashes" by Chris Green, for Institute of Economic Affairs. The failure to deliver the performance on the railways which its customers demand has led to a host of proposals for reform. These are often self-interested, and rang
  • Publication Transport A critique of rail regulation
    October 17, 2000

    Beesley Lecture, Institute of Economic Affairs, London, October 17th 2000. Very few privatisations have been free of teething problems, and all new regulatory bodies have faced criticisms, made mistakes, and had to improvise and adapt with experience. Per

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