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Grayling: Improving our transport system is a social responsibility

In his speech to the Conservative Party Conference, Shadow Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling said:

"If we're going to tackle global warming we need a new direction. If we're going to reduce congestion we need a new direction. If we're going to improve quality of life we need a new direction.

If you're a commuter like I am, you know that Labour's transport policies have let us all down.

We've had a Ten year plan, white papers, green papers, Acts of Parliament, Consultations, Multi-modal studies, Regional planning assessments - and what do we have now?

Our roads are so full that traffic jams are a way of life. Our trains are expensive and more congested than a John Prescott sentence, and our buses are so infrequent in rural areas you might as well wait for a passing tractor.

It is no wonder that people are sick and tired of Labour's politicians promising the undeliverable, spinning the unacceptable and delivering far too little.

We have two big challenges - breaking Britain's gridlock and protecting our environment.

Improving our transport system is a social responsibility and not just a state responsibility. We all have to act together, Government, local councils, businesses, the travelling public

As Peter Ainsworth and our guest speakers will set out later in this session, we all have to be alive to what we can do to protect our environment.

Now let me be clear what that means. In the past few weeks the papers have had all kinds of stories about penalising motorists. Let me be quite clear. The Conservative Party is not about to become

anti-driver or anti-car.

We know that cars are a vital part of everyday life. We use our cars to get to work and back. We use our cars to do the shopping or get to the Doctor's. We use our cars to take our children to football on a Saturday.

Cars allow freedoms that past generations would not have dreamed of.

And tackling the environmental impact of road transport doesn't mean trying to drive cars off our roads. It's the technology that needs to change. Cars have to become greener and greener. You can see a display of the latest green cars outside the conference centre. Go and have a look.

The average new car in Britain emits around 170 grammes of carbon dioxide for every kilometre you drive. We want to see that figure fall to 100 grammes within fifteen years. An improvement of 40%.

But this Government doesn't think that it's important. This year they actually scrapped incentives for green cars.

I discovered a few weeks ago that the Government had asked the Energy Saving Trust to produce a set of green car league tables

To my amazement I was told that Ministers had refused to publish that information. So, as part of our green cars strategy, we're going to do it ourselves.

Today we are launching a new website - howgreenisyourcar.co.uk.

You can see its homepage on the screen behind me. It contains the league tables that the Government will not publish. It also contains environmental information about every car currently on sale in the UK.

I want this site to become a must visit location for people looking to find out more about cars and the environment.

But getting greener cars onto our roads is just one of the transport challenges we all face. We know

that if we're going to tackle congestion we have to improve our road network.

But that alone is not enough.

Being a Conservatives is about offering choice and diversity giving people options when they travel. Nowhere is this more true than in our cities.

If we want to encourage more and more people back to live in our cities we will need a new generation of urban public transport - building on the work we did a decade ago.

Don't forget that it was Conservatives who backed the Manchester Metrolink. Conservatives who backed

the Croydon Tramlink. Conservatives who built the Docklands Light Railway. Conservatives who built the first new tube line in a generation.

Labour told us in their ten year plan that they would transform urban transport. So I say to those who live in Liverpool, ask Labour why they cancelled Merseytram? I say to to those who live in Leeds, ask Labour why they cancelled Supertram? I say to the to those who live in Manchester, ask Labour why Metrolink's Rochdale line won't go into Rochdale and why the Airport line won't go to the Airport?

So to those of you who live in our great cities I say don't look to the Labour Party look to the Conservatives.

If we're going to tackle congestion and improve quality of life we also to have to help with the school run. We also want our school children and their parents to have better travel choices.

We are looking at how we can do more to encourage the use of school buses in Britain.

We all know how empty the roads are during the school holidays. It's time we looked at how to bring some of that to the term time as well.

I can tell you today that we are working on a strategy now to get more school buses out onto our roads.

Making our transport more green, more local and more family friendly will not be complete without

a bold new direction for our railways. They are now carrying more passengers than they were 40 years ago. Our trains are now so overcrowded that on some lines the only way to increase capacity is to rip out seats.

Try getting the seven o'clock from Kings Cross to Newcastle on a Friday or commuting into our cities

on a weekday morning.

If we do nothing about it, it is going to get much worse.

In July I announced a Rail Review designed to generate new ideas about how we can improve our railways.

Under this Government Ministers have more direct involvement in running our railways than they did even under British Rail. We have civil servants writing train timetables. We have Ministers deciding which trains will stop at Melksham. We have Ministers deciding whether to axe the service from Walsall to Wolverhampton.

I want rail professionals running our railways. It is time Whitehall stopped playing the fat controller.

But I also believe we need a less fragmented railway. Passengers want to know who is in charge. Decisions that could ease overcrowding need to be taken quickly.

No more excuses. No more buck passing. No more delays which are 'beyond the operators' control'.

That's why I can say today that we are looking at bringing track and train back together. Frankly, the debate today should no longer be about privatisation or nationalisation.

We just want a railway that works.

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is at the heart of why we are different to Labour. Where Labour have talked, we will do. Where Labour have planned, we will act. Where Labour have promised, we will achieve.

Our party has a proud heritage of protecting the land we cherish and the air we breathe.

It was Conservatives who pioneered Public Health laws. It was Conservatives who passed the great Clean Air Act. It was Conservatives who brought the environment into mainstream politics.

And it will be Conservatives who craft Britain's response to climate change.

A response born not just of blind faith in the power of Government, but of shared responsibility and trust in people. A response born not of vague targets and impractical plans, but of local action and common sense. A response, born truly of Modern Conservatism."

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