Future of transport now in hands of Labour

9th Jul 2024

Following last week’s landslide victory, Louise Haigh was named Transport Secretary and promises ‘the most radical overhaul’ of public transport in a generation.

Get ahead with CIHT Membership

Join other savvy professionals just like you at CIHT.  We are  committed to fulfilling your professional development needs throughout your career

Find out more

By Phillip Othen

Following 14 years of Conservative rule, during which a commitment to transportation net zero was balanced with heavily reduced bus services and rising rail costs, increasing 30% between 2012 and 2022, it is now Labour’s turn to take charge and help steer the highways and transportation industry forward.

The Shadow Transport Secretary since 2021, Haigh is best known for advocating the nationalisation of the rail network with her party promising such a move would happen within five years of coming to power; following the first Cabinet meeting, she told reporters waiting outside it will occur: “As soon as possible.”

“[It] is not going to be easy, and it will take hard graft, but it will be my mission to get us to the right destination and to deliver for the Great British passenger,” Haigh said in a speech last year.

And since being named transport secretary on Friday 5th July 2024, she stated on X: “Transport is at the heart of our mission-driven government. We all transform infrastructure and deliver the most radical overhaul of public transport in a generation.”

At an address to staff at the Department for Transport, she outlined five key priorities for transport that closely mirror the recent asks in the CIHT manifesto.

The MP for Sheffield Healey since 2015, Haigh has been commended for supporting the rights of workers and was named the ‘hardest-working’ of new MPs by independent House of Commons Library research.

CIHT would also like to welcome Lord Peter Hendy who has been confirmed in the last few days as a Minister of State for Transport. Lord Hendy is a Fellow of CIHT. 

Labour’s new approach to transport

In its pre-election manifesto, Labour announced a series of plans which fell in line with the overall strategy of being a mission-led government.

Among the changes proposed for transport aside from rail nationalisation were serving drivers, cyclists and other users by maintaining and renewing the road network through a 10-year infrastructure programme, fixing one million potholes each year, supporting the transition to electric vehicles and restoring the phase out date of 2030 for the manufacturing of new internal combustion engine cars, and reforming the bus system, lifting the ban on municipal ownership.

In response, several organisations and groups have reacted with positivity since Labour entered 10 Downing Street.

Sue Percy CBE, Chief Executive at CIHT said: “CIHT congratulates the Labour Party on forming the new government and looks forward to engaging with them over the next few months.

“Transport is politically challenging, and yet it plays a crucial part in our futures. People and goods need an effective transport network to support economic activity and social wellbeing.

“Good transport provides access to employment, goods, services and opportunities. How society invests in and uses the transport network also has major impacts on climate change and public health.”

Trade body Airlines UK stated: “[We] look forward to working in partnership with the new government to ensure we can continue to foster growth in all parts of the UK economy, support hundreds of thousands of jobs including in the green industries of the future, while reducing our environmental impact and hitting net zero.”

Meanwhile, infrastructure consultants AECOM’s Chief Executive Colin Wood said: “AECOM and our peers across the sector are ready to help deliver the Labour Party’s pledge to implement a 10-year infrastructure strategy and establish the National Infrastructure & Service Transformation Authority.”

And the Mike Hawes, Chief Executive at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said: “When the automotive sector succeeds, so does Britain. So SMMT congratulates the Labour Party on its election victory.

“The next five years will be decisive, with a once-in-a-generation switch to zero emission vehicles alongside the rise of connected and automated vehicles – all against a backdrop of rising global competition as countries seek to put their own automotive markets and manufacturing ahead of the game. The need for policymaking that backs our sector is as important as ever.”

Read ‘The first hundred days of the new government’ for CIHT’s full reaction to Labour’s election win and the future of transport.

See how Labour's new transport priorities mirror the asks in the CIHT manifesto.

Newsletter image: newspapers react to Labour’s election victory; credit: Shutterstock.

Comments on this site are moderated. Please allow up to 24 hours for your comment to be published on this site. Thank you for adding your comment.

{{item.AuthorName}} {{item.AuthorName}} says on {{item.DateFormattedString}}:


Get ahead with CIHT Membership

Join other savvy professionals just like you at CIHT.  We are  committed to fulfilling your professional development needs throughout your career

Find out more