Chancellor George Osborne announced major transport investment strategies for the North, the South West and London in his Budget today, alongside a range of wider infrastructure plans.
This week the Government will publish a ‘comprehensive transport strategy for the North’ Mr Osborne revealed, a strategy that will outline major projects developed in partnership with local authority group Transport for the North (TfN).
‘TfN will shortly publish an interim report, committing to build on the concept of HS3 to develop a network of high quality rail connections across the north – the TransNorth vision; bring the benefits of HS2 to the north sooner than planned; and work towards a single smart and integrated ticketing system across the region,’ the Budget document states.
‘The government will now proceed with electrification of the Selby to Hull line, subject to an acceptable contribution from Hull Trains and a business case, to complete the full electrification of the historic trade route between Liverpool and Hull,’ it adds.
This was followed by plans for the South West. The Government has already committed to making a £7.2bn investment in transport in the region and Mr Osborne revealed today there would also be ‘a new rail franchise which will bring new intercity express trains and greatly improved rail services’.
The Budget document states: ‘The secretary of state for transport will shortly set out details of the new franchise for the Great Western Route, which will introduce the new £3bn Intercity Express trains, more frequent services and faster journey times.’
‘The Government has asked the South West Peninsula Task Force on rail to consider improvements to the Exeter to Salisbury line as part of its work.
The government also encourages the relevant local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnership to develop a business case for investment in the North Devon Link road, to form the basis of a future application to the Local Growth Fund.’
For London there was £97m of funding to support the regeneration of Brent Cross, with plans for a new station central to the project, and wider support to help transport and new developments escape project delays through more devolution of powers.
Mr Osborne said there would be ‘new powers for the mayor over skills and planning and new funding for the London Land Commission to help address the acute housing shortage in the capital’, which could speed up transport and infrastcuture projects in the capital.
In good news for the average motorist the government froze fuel duty again, making this the longest duty freeze in over 20 years and saving a family around £10 every time they fill up their car, Mr Osborne claimed.
Ministers also revealed that once the Severn River Crossings are in public ownership after 2018, the Government will reduce tolls on bridge by abolishing the top rate for small vans and buses and include those vehicles in Category 1 for motor cars and motor caravans.
The chancellor also set aside £100m to enhance the development of driverless car technology and the systems required to implement and adopt the technology, such as telecommunications.
This was coupled with ‘almost £140m for world class research across the UK into the infrastructure and cities of the future’ and investment in the Internet of Things a key component for the future of intelligent transport, described by Mr Osborne as ‘the next stage of the information revolution, connecting up everything from urban transport to medical devices to household appliances’.
‘To encourage a new generation of low emission vehicles we will increase their company car tax more slowly than previously planned, while increasing other rates by 3% in 2019-20,’ Mr Osborne said.