'Transport needs extra £15bn'

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Indy Politics

The Government's 10-year transport plan has been hit by inexcusable delays and would only work with another £15bn worth of taxpayers' money, Britain's biggest employers' organisation has warned.

The Government's 10-year transport plan has been hit by inexcusable delays and would only work with another £15bn worth of taxpayers' money, Britain's biggest employers' organisation has warned.

The CBI also warned ministers not to "shirk" difficult decisions, such as the introduction of road tolls to beat congestion over the next 12 months, otherwise the strategy would not be delivered on time.

The concern expressed by the employers' organisation follows last month's report by the Labour-dominated Commons Transport committee, which rubbished the Government's attempts to implement the plan. While ministers might feel they can ignore demands from Old Labour for more resources, they will find it more difficult to reject demands from the CBI, which has supported the policy.

The Confederation believes that most of the extra investment, some £12bn, needs to be pumped into the rail network.

Fresh commitments, such as the work needed in the wake of the Hatfield disaster, and rising costs have meant that the total sum needed to implement the plan has risen from £180bn to £195bn, the CBI calculates. In an annual review of the plan, the Confederation said that 25 of the business community's 47 top-priority transport schemes were still under inquiry, and that another seven would not be completed by 2010.

Digby Jones, director general of the CBI, said the Government should "hold its nerve" despite criticism. "The transport plan faces challenges, but business supports setting out an investment programme to achieve long-term improvements," he said.

Mr Jones added that unless big projects began within the next 18 months they were unlikely to be finished by 2010.

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