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INSIDER - JAMES, BRIDGES AND BUDGETS

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Ginsters in gastropubs...
Ginsters in gastropubs

'How can we get people to change their travel habits is a question that's exercising us,' says one of Insider's transport directors.

You see, it appears getting people to be greener in how they get around is about as politically popular as cancelling all those£29 flights to Malaga.

'Many professionals agree some form of congestion charging in urban areas should be explored but local politicians are hardly queuing up to be first,' she says.

Surely the answer is to start using some of that transport innovation funding to encourage townsfolk to consider driving everywhere on their own about as acceptable as eating a Ginsters pie in a gastropub.

Either that, or give councils the same say over public transport as the Greater London Authority. Afterall, London is one of the few places where bus usage has actually increased.

Danger - low bridge

Trainspotters will no doubt have heard transport secretary Alistair Darling's announcement that the UK could one day see double-decker trains.

Those who tend to 'spot' other things, such as the fact this could have a big knock-on effect on existing infrastructure, may not be too thrilled by the prospect.

'Having gone through the rigmarole of bringing most bridges up to 40 tonne-bearing capacity, how many will we need to now raise to get double-decker trains underneath?' asks one.

'Maybe we should just cut to the chase and raise their load-bearing capacity to 48 tonnes or whatever super-juggernauts will weigh by the time Mr Darling reveals his full repertoire? Bridge engineers must be rubbing their hands in glee.'

Is Alistair Gordon's darling?

Once again some directors are scrutinising Mr Darling and chancellor Gordon Brown's relationship for evidence of what the future may hold for transport funding. 'Will they have a spat like Gordie and Tone and it all ends in tears (for the transport industry that is)?' worries one.

'With talk about Mr B being harsh on council funding again next year, transport budgets will be exposing the marrow, let alone being pared to the bone.'

Not a welcome thought considering many officers are already struggling to manage costs. 'Trying to find some believable Gershon efficiency 'savings' is a worry,' explains another. 'Investigations into some of my budget areas has shown more growth pressures than potential savings. Some staff are now wondering about their jobs.'

If it helps, Mr Brown himself is probably also considering his own post - or at least he will be, depending on Labour's local election results.

All views are published anonymously. To join the transport Insider e-mail: nina.lovelace@emap.com

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