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Railwatch 070 - December 1996

Europe sets the transport policy pace

Europe is now setting the transport policy for Britain, despite the huffing and puffing of our politicans, Professor Janice Morphet told rail campaigners.

"If you want to influence that policy, you have to get in early," she said. "Lobbying can be very effective."

Brussels has aleady decided that the future lies with railways and public transport. "We haven't see the difference yet but, even in Britain, all the right words are being used even if the policy is not being implemented properly yet," she said.

"But British politicians and civil servants do not want to tell us about Europe."

Europe was laying plans for five, 10 and 50 years ahead whereas in Britain we were not even planning for three years ahead.

"More like three weeks," she joked. "Their leading edge is a long way in front of ours.

"When Brussels says it is going to do something, it does it. Politicians might obstruct the policy for a short time but Brussels just comes back a few years later - and succeeds."

She said the idea of strategic environmental assessments for all big projects, including transport, was blocked by Britain in 1988 but approved by the House of Commons in June 1996.

Brussels will set up a European Railway Board and many of the network improvements will be made as a result of local government initiatives.

The real improvements might come after Britain has introduced regional government. England for instance will be divided into eight regions. East Anglia is almost certain to be one of the regions.

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