Transport secretary Philip Hammond has announced that motorists will not be coerced into giving up the private car for intermediate journeys involving complex routing across rural and suburban areas, thanks to the introduction of low-carbon vehicles.
Addressing a conference in London, Mr Hammond said: "For long-distance, inter-urban journeys, our challenge is to make the train the mode of choice.
"For short-distance urban travel, our challenge is to make public transport or low-impact modes such as walking and cycling the most attractive options."
However, for complex, cross-country intermediate journeys, there is "no realistic prospect of displacing the private car through persuasion rather than coercion", Mr Hammond said, adding that he does not favour coercion as a solution.
He said: "Whether we like it or not, the ability to travel point-to-point on an individually tailored timetable is one of the great quality-of-life gains of the second half of the 20th century - and not one that people will give up without a fight."
Mr Hammond added that the introduction of low-carbon vehicles - such as theNissan Leaf, which will be on the roads early next year - is expected to transform the way private cars are viewed for medium-distance complex journeys.
Copyright © Press Association 2010