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Looking forward to the year 2000

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In 1972 the National Union of Railwaymen led the formation of ‘Transport 2000’, an advocacy organisation for public and ‘environmentally friendly’ transport. In the nineteen seventies, the name must have conjured up visions of a new approach to the environment, and new types of transport.

Over the years, Transport 2000 campaigned against rail closures, and for expanded public transport, but gradually seemed to lose the ability to develop convincing policy positions. The globe-trotting of its president, Michael Palin, attracted some unwanted press coverage. In 2007, it finally changed its name to the the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

But CBT’s outlook seems to be shackled to its heritage, and ideas from the last century. This can be seen in its attitude to high speed rail in Britain, following the Labour policy U-turn navigated by Andrew Adonis. Although the HS2 project involves massive environmental damage, and would crowd out other public transport development, CBT has sat on the fence. It’s as if it knows that HS2 is bad, but because it’s a railway project, it cannot come out and campaign against it.

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