The Government’s integrated transport White Paper has been broadly welcomed. For a long time, industry has been calling for investment in transport infrastructure, and an integrated approach allowing sensibly-planned investment is overdue.
This is good news for companies which are developing the technologies needed to underpin some of the White Paper’s key proposals. Electronic systems for tolling and congestion charging, integrated public transport information and ticketing, and driver information systems and route guidance, are already here.
Political will is needed to overcome the remaining barriers, which are institutional and organisational. The Government must give a lead on how it wants congestion-charging and tolling enforced, so that back-office systems can be finalised.
Interoperability of different systems must be made an absolute requirement motorists and freight operators will not accept multiple smart card readers for different parts of Europe.
For integrated public transport information, Government pressure will be needed to ensure bus and rail operators co-operate in creating a single timetable database and, more crucially, to co-ordinate timetables around train connections.
The proposed regional traffic control centres will play a vital role in collecting hold-up and accident information for drivers.
The companies supplying the technology are keen to get their systems into operation. A more efficient, smoother running transport infrastructure will benefit all travelling for business or pleasure will be less stressful; industry will benefit from a smoother flow of goods around the country; just-in-time deliveries will be easier to plan and schedule.
The White Paper sets out a new vision of a modern transport system for the UK after years of under-investment. There must be no further delay in making it a reality.