Transport Secretary sets out record investment plans for transport network
The Transport Secretary has (9 March 2023) ensured record funding is invested in the country’s transport network, sustainably driving growth across the country while managing the pressures of inflation.
As part of the government’s largest capital programme commitment ever, over £40 billion will be invested in transformational transport schemes over the next 2 financial years across the country, helping to level up local communities and deliver on one of the government’s 5 priorities to grow the economy.
This includes a continued investment in delivering HS2, which will grow local economies, provide a green transport solution and train a skilled construction workforce, as well as almost £8 billion in investment over the next 2 years in major roads – the nation’s economic arteries, which support the bulk of passenger journeys.
With over £20 billion spent on Phase One already, the government will prioritise delivering the opening stage of HS2, with the first high-speed rail services running between new stations at Old Oak Common in west London and Curzon Street in Birmingham by the early 2030s. This will be transformative for passengers and communities, ensuring that the earliest benefits of HS2 are retained – creating jobs, attracting investment and sparking housing and commercial regeneration along and beyond the route.
The government also remains fully committed to delivering HS2 from Euston to Manchester. However, in recognition of inflationary pressures and to help balance the nation’s books, the next 2 years will be used to rephase construction and optimise future delivery of Phase 2a between Birmingham and Crewe so this is done in the most cost-effective way. This aims to deliver high-speed services to Crewe and the North West as soon as possible after accounting for the rephasing of construction.
At the same time, the government will take the time to ensure an affordable and deliverable design at Euston, with a view to delivering the station alongside high-speed infrastructure to Manchester, while the High Speed Rail (Crewe-Manchester) Bill continues through Parliament.
Work continues on progressing commitments made in the Integrated Rail Plan to develop HS2 East, the proposed route for HS2 services between the West and East Midlands, and to consider the most effective way to take HS2 trains to Leeds.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said:
“We know the power of transport as an engine for sustainable economic growth. That’s why – even in this tough economic climate – this government sees transport investment as a down payment on the country’s future and is committing £20 billion over each of the next 2 years to improve the UK’s transport network.
“But we can’t ignore the current realities. Putin’s war in Ukraine has hiked up inflation, sending supply chain costs rocketing. The responsible decisions I’ve outlined today will ensure we balance the budget at the same time as investing record sums in our transport network to help halve inflation, grow the economy and reduce debt.”
Despite the government’s record £40 billion investment, there are challenging economic headwinds following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and supply chain disruption as the global economy recovers from the pandemic, which have made project delivery difficult.
This means the government has had to take tough decisions on what can be achieved within original timeframes.
The A27 Arundel Bypass and A5036 Port of Liverpool Access in the Roads Investment Strategy (RIS 2) both face a range of challenges including environmental considerations and ongoing design changes, and so will be developed in RIS 3 (covering 2025-2030) to allow time to ensure stakeholders’ views are fully considered. The schemes earmarked for RIS3 (2025-30) will continue to be developed and considered for inclusion within RIS 4, which will run from 2030-2035. Given many of these schemes were previously expected towards the end of RIS 3, this extra time will help ensure better planned and efficient schemes can be deployed more effectively.
As one of the largest planning applications ever, the Lower Thames Crossing, backed by £800 million to date, will also be slowed down by 2 years. This will allow more time to take into account stakeholder views and prepare an effective and deliverable plan, while helping to meet inflationary pressures and deliver the planning processes properly.
The government is committed to supporting all forms of transport and is investing more than £3 billion into active travel up to 2025, despite the efficiency savings needed due to global financial pressures. This includes existing funding for active travel schemes such as through the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements (CRSTS) and National Highways to level up access to active travel across the country. The department will invest at least £100 million across the remainder of the Spending Review period – for 2023/24 and 2024/25. This will be on top of an expected £850 million investment up to 2022/23.
Record investment plans for transport network, written ministerial statement.