Yesterday the NEW Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak stated “We’re also going to build better railways” whilst setting out the Government’s plans for spending based on the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility. The Chancellor announced that around £640 billion of gross capital investment will be provided for roads, railways, communications, schools, hospitals and power networks across the UK by 2024-25.
The budget included:
- £20m to develop an outline business case with detailed designs and costings for the Midlands Rail Hub programme of improvements to rail services between the region’s cities;
- A devolution deal to establish a West Yorkshire Combined Authority with a directly-elected Mayor from May 2021. This would devolve significant decision-making powers on transport, planning and skills, underpinning a long-term transport settlement for the region starting in 2022-23. As part of this, the government is to provide up to £500 000 to support regeneration in Bradford and the development of plans to increase the benefits of potential Northern Powerhouse Rail connections;
- Removing the entitlement to use red diesel from April 2022, except in rail, agriculture, fish farming and for non-commercial heating;
- £95m for the £103m Metro Flow programme of capacity and reliability improvements to the Tyne & Wear Metro. This will include upgrading and electrifying a freight line in South Tyneside from September 2022 to make it capable of carrying Metro services, doubling three section of single track, and purchasing four extra trains in addition to the 42 which have already been funded;
- £40m for Preston City Region, including £25m for a new station at Cottam Parkway;
- £166m for Sheffield City Region, including a new stop at Magna on the Rotherham tram-train line and bus rapid transit in Barnsley;
- £39·9m for a new bus station, improved rail station and other improvements in Halifax;
- A multi-modal transport hub at Stoke-on-Trent station;
- £4·2bn for the transport networks of eight city regions across England from 2022-23, to be delivered through five-year consolidated transport settlements agreed with central government and based on plans put forward by Mayors. Following the approach in London, the settlements would be published once they have been agreed, ‘providing transparency and accountability while giving Mayors the flexibility and certainty to deliver their plans’;
- £50m to improve accessibility at 12 stations, including Newtown, Beeston, Eaglescliffe and Walkden;
- A station at Cambridge South, improving connectivity to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.