The transport secretary has pledged a further £12m until 2020 for Midlands Connect, ‘to keep up their important work’.
Announcing the new funding at the Conservative Party conference, Chris Grayling said ministers were ‘delivering a bold vision for the future of our national transport system, sitting alongside local solutions for local problems’.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling
Sir John Peace, chair of Midlands Connect, the shadow sub-national transport body, which is currently aiming to produce a regional transport strategy by March 2017, said: ‘This is a huge vote of confidence in the Midlands and in Midlands Connect.
‘The funds will be used for the critical work of developing transport links that will drive growth not just here in the Midlands but across the UK.'
In March the Government made a commitment to establish Midlands Connect as a statutory sub-national transport body by 2018.
In a speech that was otherwise short of announcements, the transport secretary responded to recent criticism of plans for large-scale new infrastructure.
Mr Grayling made the case for pressing ahead with HS2 based on the additional capacity it would provide and appeared to respond to recent comments from Treasury Select Committee chair Andrew Tyrie that ‘the question of whether it is possible to improve capacity at lower speed and, consequently, at a lower cost, has not been comprehensively examined’.
‘If we need to build a new railway, why on earth wouldn’t we build a new, state of the art one for the coming century,’ he said.
The transport secretary said building a new runway in the South East would 'send a signal to the world that Britain is open for business'.
In an apparent response to recent suggestions that this would harm regional airports, he added: ‘And it won’t just benefit the South East, regional airports will benefit from any expansion too.’
Against a background of continued strikes in the rail industry, Mr Grayling said ‘a small hard-core of trade union leaders…don’t want the modernisation that the network so desperately needs'.
Echoing the theme of Theresa May’s first conference as prime minister, he concluded: ‘I want a transport system that is fit for the future and which works for everyone.’