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Roads to Nowhere

New transport secretary Justine Greening's first challenge

Former campaigner's picture

14 October 2011: Philip Hammond has been replaced by Justine Greening as the new Secretary of State for Transport. She faces an early choice between modernising our transport system or locking us further into dependency on oil.

Philip Hammond did some good things as Transport Secretary - scrapping the third runway at Heathrow and the A14 widening scheme, supporting rail investment including electrification, and keeping in place incentives for low carbon vehicles.

On the downside, he promoted very high rail fares increases and the increase in motorway speeds to 80 mph, and has also been rather unenthusiastic about measures to give people real travel choices, such as travel plans and cycling.

Justine Greening is very welcome as Transport Secretary, especially given her background as a campaigner against Heathrow expansion. She faces several challenges - we'd like her to revisit the planned increases in rail fares and cuts in bus funding, and to resist siren calls for renewed road building from parts of Government and from some local authorities. Other challenges she faces include doing high speed rail better, coming up with a coherent rail strategy and developing a new plan for aviation.

But one of her first challenges is over which local transport schemes get funding from national government - will she invest in public transport, or spend yet more on road schemes that lock us into dependency on foreign oil imports and add to carbon emissions?

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