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Call to boost road maintenance

The Government should give more priority to maintaining existing transport infrastructure than building new capacity, a survey of transport managers and experts has revealed.

Maintaining existing roads was more important than building new motorways, the survey of members of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) found.

While most of the 1,244 polled supported plans for a high-speed rail network, most reckoned that new transport links to airports should not be regarded as a top priority at present.

With the Government's spending review set for October, the institute members said the key priority was for transport spending that supported economic growth or reduced congestion.

"Smarter choices" such as green efforts to change travel behaviour and reduce car use - such as cycling and car sharing - was also seen as one of the top priorities.

But members identified socially inclusive services, rural accessibility, health and safety and increasing capacity as the main areas where spending cuts could be made.

Only 24% of those surveyed reckoned Government resources should be directed towards increasing road capacity, while 61% backed rail capacity increases.

Almost two in five (39%) supported cutting concessions, such as travel by senior citizens, while as many as 70% backed some form of road or congestion charging.

Protecting public spending to reduce carbon emissions was the fourth highest overall priority. A total of 55% favoured significant Government spending on reducing the carbon output of the transport industry, although more were supportive of maintaining rather than increasing spending.

CILT president Sir Moir Lockhead, who is also chairman of transport company FirstGroup, said: "No-one likes to see the transport budget cut, but in the current conditions it's inevitable that savings are going to have to be made. This survey provides a unique viewpoint cutting across private and public sectors and involves people from every part of the transport and logistics industry. It provides the most comprehensive view from transport specialists of the way the industry believes we should move forward."


From Belfast Telegraph