A new inquiry has been launched by the Transport Select Committee (TSC), with the aim of looking into the approaches the UK Government takes in developing strategic objectives for transport policy. 

The Committee’s Our Future Transport campaign had asked for ideas on what the TSC ought to investigate, and this newly announced inquiry has been inspired by that process. 

What will the new inquiry seek to achieve? 

The TSC inquiry is expected to look into how effectively the Government works across departments in its setting of strategic transport objectives. It will also consider how those objectives do – or should – influence decision-making in relation to services, networks, and infrastructure. 

The Committee noted that as things currently stand, future investment planning is mostly done on the basis of specific programmes or individual transport nodes. This process often entails local and regional Government and arms-length bodies calling for new powers, revenue funding, or infrastructure to allow for services in their area to be supported and improved. 

For some nodes, funding is in limited supply and only provided on a short-term basis, with competition often used to determine the allocation of resources. 

MPs making up the Committee will consider the degree to which the Government adopts a long-term, national, and multimodal approach to forecasting, catering for, maintaining and developing the transport requirements of the UK. 

TSC members will also assess what difference could be made if clear, national strategic objectives were embraced for the country’s transport sector. 

A potentially crucial investigation process for UK transport 

Iain Stewart MP, Transport Committee Chair, said that the inquiry would “ask the overarching question – what are the Government’s strategic objectives for the transport sector and how are they prioritised?” 

He continued: “From there, we will examine how those objectives do, or should, influence decisions on investment in services, networks, and infrastructure… we plan to dig into the extent to which the Government takes a long-term approach to joining up different modes of transport, and works effectively across Whitehall, for the benefit of communities across the whole country.” 

And there has already been backing for the inquiry from the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT), which said it welcomed the move because it “chimes” with the charity and learned society’s own call for a National Transport Strategy

The CIHT has said that the Government should “provide a clear vision and strategy that sets out how transport will contribute to key policy areas. CIHT will work with Government, other national bodies, and sub-national transport groups to develop the vision and strategy.” 

Place your trust in capable and cost-effective transport consultants 

Certainly, the TSC inquiry is one that our own transport consultants at Transport Planning Associates (TPA) will follow with interest, given the considerable implications it could have for the future of this all-important sector. 

In the meantime, readers who are seeking out a transport planning and infrastructure design consultancy that they can trust to provide the most innovative and cost-effective support, are advised to enquire to their nearest TPA office.