Transport secretary Chris Grayling has announced £70m of local funding linked to HS2, including a £30m road safety fund.
Mr Grayling confirmed plans to make £70m funding available ‘to support local communities and road safety’ along the first phase of the route, between London and the West Midlands.
HS2 services from Euston are due to start in 2026
The Department for Transport (DfT) said a £30m road safety fund will be used to make improvements in places along the line of route – for instance to support traffic calming, safer junctions or better pedestrian crossings. Officials said further details of the fund will be announced ‘in due course’.
The remaining £40m will be shared between the HS2 Community and Environment Fund (CEF) and the Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF).
Officials said community groups, charities, non-governmental organisations and business support specialists will be able to bid for grants from the CEF and BLEF, ‘which are expected to be rolled out when construction starts in 2017 and will be awarded until the end of HS2’s first year of operation in 2026’.
Last month the Commons Public Accounts Committee suggested that plans to open the new line by 2026 were ‘overly ambitious’.
Mr Grayling said HS2 was needed to tackle the looming capacity crisis the rail network faces and to help boost jobs and regeneration along the line of the route and across the country.
He said: ‘We need HS2 now more than ever. We’re facing a rapidly approaching crunch-point. In the last 20 years alone, the number of people travelling on our railways has more than doubled and our rail network is the most intensively used of any in Europe.'
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), welcomed the statement and said it looks forward to working with its members to ensure that it is delivered on time and on budget.
Marie-Claude Hemming, head of external affairs at CECA, said: ‘HS2 must be at the centre of the diverse portfolio of transport and energy projects the nation will rely upon in the coming years. Only a project on the scale of HS2 will tackle the capacity crisis on the UK’s rail network, and will deliver jobs and growth both along the line of the route and across the country.'