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Thursday, 20 July, 2000, 18:22 GMT 19:22 UK
Mixed response to transport plans
The increased investment in public transport has been widely welcomed
Transport and business leaders have welcomed the government's 10 year transport plan, saying they will deliver an improved service for travellers.

But environmental groups have attacked plans for more road-building, with one organisation accusing the government of "turning the clock the dark ages."

But the RAC said the announcement was a "tonic for all travellers" and the organisation's chairman Sir Christopher Foster said the plans would "cut congestion and be a massive boost for the environment".

It welcomed both the extra investment in roads, and in public transport, saying the latter would address congestion problems.

'Balanced package'

John Dawson from the AA agreed, saying the plans amounted to a "balanced package" and the targets to reduce congestion were "rightly ambitious."

Business representatives and unions also broadly welcomed the plans.

Digby Jones, director general of the CBI, said: "Businesses throughout the UK have been crying out for a generation for an efficient transport infrastructure.

"Having one is essential to productivity and will contribute hugely to our global competitiveness."

Better rail management

Jimmy Knapp from the Rail, Maritme and Transport Union said "the public mood is in favour of improved public transport and an expanding role for the rail industry".

Mick Rix, from the Aslef rail union also welcomed the plans, but warned that new money had to be matched with better management.

"There must be concern that because the railways are in private hands, much of the cash may disappear into shareholders' pockets rather than being used to upgrade the network," he said.

Rural concerns

But John Prescott's attempts to woo the rural community with promises of better bus links were not sufficient to satisfy the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE).

CPRE spokeswoman Lilli Matson said: "The government is seriously ill-informed if it thinks this level of road building will be popular.

"The cost of new bypasses overshadows the positive moves by government to increase funding for rural public transport."

Environmental groups welcomed "long overdue" increases in public transport spending, attacked plans for more road-building.

Friends of the Earth warned the government's plans implied a continuing rise in the number of vehicles on the roads, a U-turn from promises made when Labour took office.

'Dark ages'

The director of Transport 2000, Stephen Joseph, said traffic congestion problems could not be solved by building more roads.

He said: "Where will all the extra traffic pouring off widened motorways end up?

"This orgy of road building will spell out traffic blight for neighbouring local communities up and down the country.

"We did not expect the government to be so short-sighted as to turn the clock back on road building to the Dark Ages," he said.

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