Budget 2017: Hammond pledges transport boost to get UK “firing on all cylinders”
The Chancellor said the Government was “giving power back to the people of Britain”.
Philip Hammond pledged to get the UK “firing on all cylinders” with a range of investments in transport projects.
The Chancellor’s plans for transport infrastructure included a £1.7 billion Transforming Cities fund to boost links between prosperous city centres and struggling suburbs.
He also announced:
:: £300 million will be invested to ensure the HS2 high-speed rail project can accommodate future rail improvements as part of the so-called Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine programmes
:: £30 million towards trials of how mobile and digital connectivity can be enhanced on trains on the TransPennine route which runs between Manchester and Yorkshire
:: £337 million invested in the replacement of the 40-year-old rolling stock on the Tyne and Wear Metro
:: Continued work by the Treasury and Transport for London on the funding and financing of Crossrail 2, a proposed new north-south rail link through the capital
:: Devolution deals with the West Midlands and North of the Tyne regions to allocate funding locally
The Government has faced a barrage of criticism in recent months after announcing backing for multi-billion pound investments for London and the South East amid the axing or downgrading of rail projects in the North, Wales and Midlands.
The Chancellor said the Government was “giving power back to the people of Britain and driving prosperity and greater fairness across our United Kingdom”.
He went on: “Backing skills is key to unlocking growth nationally but far too much of our economic strength is concentrated in our capital city.
“If we are truly to build an economy that is fit for the future then we have to get all parts of the UK firing on all cylinders.”
Ed Cox, director of think tank IPPR North, commented: “We welcome the drip drip of small investments in northern transport infrastructure but nothing the Chancellor has announced will bring the transformational change the Northern economy needs to see.
“We need £59 billion catch-up cash to drive the growth that will turn around the ever-widening productivity gap between North and South. This is not rocket science.”
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, representing train companies and Network Rail, said: “This Budget underscores how crucial rail is to the future of the economy in every corner of the country.
“It is good news that there is support for local decision making, and investment in skills and infrastructure, particularly in the North of England.”