Tories pledge additional £29m for transport in ‘great northern cities’, says GRANT SHAPPS
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I also knew from the start transport would be crucial in delivering this powerhouse by providing connections that join up towns, and capacity that improves commuting. Delivering this requires upgrading and improving the north’s transport infrastructure. Because of that, I’ve decisively acted to improve northern transport.
From giving HS2 the go-ahead to stripping Northern of its franchise, priority commitments and concerns for the north have been addressed. That’s on top of introducing nationwide measures to transform our infrastructure and help level up our country, like the £5bn funding announced in February to overhaul bus services and cycle links.
The coronavirus outbreak has significantly impacted all our lives, and while our priority must be to tackle this virus, this won’t stop me from delivering for the north. And I’m determined all our investment in the north must be part of a clear aim – to help its towns and cities continue running, to keep people safe, and – at the end of this outbreak – to help them grow.
Yesterday’s announcement on the latest support I’m providing for transport to help the country recover from the coronavirus outbreak, is testament to that aim and shows the importance I put both on supporting northern transport now, and building it up in the future.
To do that, we must pay clear attention to improving transport in local areas. The Beeching Fund to restore our railways received lots of bids since launching in January – as a result, we’ve announced schemes in the north will be some of the first to benefit.
For instance, we’re providing funding to develop plans to bring back passenger services between Clitheroe and Hellifield, and an additional £5m to develop further the plans re-introducing passenger services between Ashington, Blyth and Newcastle – and this is only just the start.
People left-behind by decades of attention not being focussed on the north will have links restored, increasing their options on everything from visiting nearby friends and family, to days out at historic high streets and markets once this pandemic is over.
It’ll provide greater job range, better connections to help people live their lives, and will level up opportunities for people from isolated communities.
We also know the north’s roads are key arteries for people’s daily journeys, while also connecting businesses with hubs such as ports. The A66 sits front and centre in connecting the northern economy and helping people access its beauty spots as well as its businesses.
We’ve pressed on with determining the planned route for its upgrade, meaning the £1bn for improving it can be put to work sooner. By getting on with this project even now, it means people will more quickly see increased safety, reduced journey times, and a further expansion of people’s ability to access jobs and services, benefitting local communities and long-distance goods users alike.
And on top of all of this, we know light rail systems are crucial for people in our great northern cities. That’s why we’ve committed an additional £29m to support them in the north and midlands over the coming months, making sure people who need to travel these routes can do so in the knowledge the services they rely on are safe.
All this demonstrates our clear commitment to investing in northern transport, even in these unprecedented times. It’s about making sure from Hull to Liverpool, Newcastle to Sheffield, and everywhere in between, people get the transport services they need.
Since taking this role, there hasn’t been a day since where I haven’t looked at how I, as Transport Secretary, can deliver this ambition. I’m determined to show that remains the case.
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