Roddy Graham's Blog: 16 July 2009 - Impressed by our new Adonis
16 July 2009
Roddy Graham is chairman of the ICFM and commercial director of Leasedrive Velo
Might we have a genuine contender in the shape of Lord Adonis as Secretary of State for Transport? Certainly, he has made quite a few good moves since his appointment from education in last October's reshuffle. The former hack spent a week travelling as an ordinary passenger on our rail network. So disgusted was he with the condition of certain railway stations, he immediately appointed a 'Toilet Tsar'! Then he nationalised the East Coast mainline. Not a self-confessed 'petrol head' like his predecessor, Geoff Hoon, he nevertheless seems to be grasping his new role with unexpected enthusiasm. He declares himself to be passionate about transport, declaring his current post to be his "dream job", which makes for a pleasant change
Apparently, he's a stickler for detail, claiming it's only through a thorough understanding of a subject that you can come up with the "big ideas", and is known for getting the job done. He declares himself to be a "man on a mission."
No surprise then to learn at the beginning of this week he was digging his heels in firmly over potential budget cuts that might de-rail his implementation of a high speed rail network. Although this could cost the nation £8bn, as far as he is concerned, that money is ring-fenced. And, in any case, he claims that being such a long-term project, the big sums will not be spent in the first five years.
I like the fact that he recognises that "the neglect on the part of successive governments" had left Britain's transport infrastructure lagging behind that of other countries. He believes we can only truly claim to be a modern economy with a modern transport system. Developing a high-speed rail network is one of the biggest transport projects to be undertaken and is a required link between major cities. After all, France has enjoyed a TGV network for decades now.
Now he has announced major cuts in transport CO2 emissions. Between 2018 and 2022, he wants to cut emissions by a further 85m tonnes. Encouraging cycling, increasing high speed rail and lower emitting vehicles are all part of his plan. Lord Adonis wants to change our habits, declaring that 60 per cent of the nation lives a 15-minute bike ride from a railway station. Opting for the low-cost option is his declared aim.
With transport the natural battleground for budget cuts, it remains to be seen if he is able to save planned road building/improvement projects as well. He may be a declared transport enthusiast but that encompasses all forms of transport including road vehicles.