Advertisement

Election Special: Transport Policies (Cont'd)

Posted by John Sannaee at 05:52 on Monday 26 April 2010

Rail Regulation
Labour have not announced any proposed changes to the existing system of regulation, but the Conservatives believe the ORR (Office of Rail Regulation)’s role should be modified to include the existing powers of the DfT to oversee passenger operations, setting it up as a ‘passenger champion’ that conducts assessments, enforces customer-focused conditions and sanctions underperforming franchises, with the power to levy tougher sanctions on Network Rail for regulatory breaches. The Liberal Democrats give no specific information on regulation, but the Greens plan to re-regulate bus services on a national level, and their plans for renationalisation of public transport would necessitate an overhaul of the rail regulation system. 

The Liberal Democrats also propose to ensure “that regulated [rail] fares go up by less than inflation, which means prices will come down,” in addition to setting up a “UK infrastructure bank” to fund public transport. The Green Party intend to encourage walking and cycling over shorter journeys and promise that they “would spend £1.5bn subsidising existing public transport to make fares up to 10% cheaper and £30bn over the Parliament on investing in a better system.”

Network Rail
Similarly, Labour have not proposed changes to Network Rail, but the Conservatives propose a restructuring down to a membership body of 10-20 people (the Network Rail Supervisory Board), which would be independent of both the DfT and Network Rail. A management board would be appointed to run Network Rail within the overall direction and policies of this board; furthermore they seek to amend Network Rail’s license to oblige it to support rail freight traffic growth. The Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, propose to replace Network Rail’s executives with a public interest board made up of representatives of customer watchdog Passenger Focus, the Local Government Association and independent experts. Network Rail would also be subject to freedom of information requests. Whilst the Greens give no specific information, presumably Network Rail in its current form would be lost with the return of the railway network to public hands. 

The aviation industry
Labour do not oppose a third runway at Heathrow, so long as its “tough criteria” are met. They also cite the Independent Committee on Climate Change, “which found that expansion at Heathrow is compatible with our 80 per cent carbon reduction target for 2050.” The Conservatives instead aim to make “Heathrow better not bigger,” with no third runway, and no second runway at Stansted or Gatwick. The Liberal Democrats also intend to reverse Heathrow extension plans and Boris Johnson's plans for a new Thames Estuary airport, and the Greens intend to stop all airport extension and “introduce taxation on aviation that reflects its full environmental costs.” 

Carbon Quotas
A cornerstone of the Green Party's environmental policy is a ‘carbon quota’ system, defining a legal amount of carbon per person per year, and when fossil fuels – such as in the form of airline or train tickets – are purchased, this would be debited from your 'carbon account'. If you wanted to travel above and beyond your carbon quota, you would have to purchase extra units, though by the same token you would also be able to sell excess units that you didn’t need.

For further commentary on the party policies, see these summaries from international legal practice, Norton Rose.

To see the party policies in full, see:

Labour Party Transport Policy 2010

Conservative Party Transport Policy 2010

Green Party Transport Policy 2010

Liberal Democrat Transport Policy 2010

 

Back to Part 1

 

See the second in our Election Briefings: Election Special: Energy Policies

Green Travel Blog

Read our latest blog posts in the categories below or go to blog home

Our expert contributors

Follow us on twitter