The report sets out goals up to 2014 and beyond as part of the Department for Transport (DfT) response to the Eddington report and the Stern review. A green paper and a formal consultation on the framework's approach will take place next spring.
Spending plans until 2014 have been largely decided, but the DfT suggested that £20 billion of government funding could be allocated for specific improvements thereafter up to 2019.
There will be regional consultations to allocate funding efficiently. One long-term option is a high-speed rail link that will increase capacity between Birmingham and Manchester.
The government confirmed that it will look at results from localised road pricing to inform its long-term decision on a national charging policy. Small local measures to improve traffic flow, buses, cycling and walking will be supported.
The UK roads programme will not be "as ambitious" as envisaged in the 1980s but increases in capacity are needed, the DfT said.
Transport secretary Ruth Kelly said: "The framework gives an opportunity to deliver a pro-green agenda." Campaign for Better Transport executive director Stephen Joseph said it will help tackle climate change.
Towards a Sustainable Transport System is available at PlanningResource.co.uk/doc.