Chancellor George Osborne made transport investment a major plank of his spending plans once again, with a range of local commitments including an eye-catching £250m local pothole fund.
Mr Osborne confirmed that more than £5bn would be spent on roads maintenance this parliament, as well as £250m towards a ‘permanent’ pothole fund over the next five years for local roads and £13.4bn on the Roads Investment Strategy for the trunk network.
A worse than expected 37% cut in the Department for Transport’s (DfT) operational budget was offset with a planned 50% increase in capital expenditure for the DfT – rising to a total of £61bn.
‘It means the construction of HS2 to link the Northern Powerhouse to the South can begin. The electrification of lines like the Trans-Pennine, Midland Main Line and Great Western can go ahead. We’ll fund our new Transport for the North to get it up and running and London will get an £11bn investment in its transport infrastructure,’ Mr Osborne said.
There will also a £300m commitment to cycling and a £250m cash pot has been earmarked for Kent to provide facilities to ease the burden of Operation Stack – the stacking of lorries on the M20 motorway when services across the English Channel are disrupted.
In a statement, Treasury officials said there would also be £475m over the parliament to fund large local transport projects, ‘enabling local areas to bid for funding for projects that would be too expensive for them to pay for by themselves, such as the Lowestoft Third River Crossing and the North Devon Link Road’.
There will also be £300m for a new Transport Development Fund, for potential future projects such as Crossrail 2 and proposals emerging from Transport for the North.
- providing £150m to support the delivery of smart and integrated ticketing across local transport and rail services in the North. TfN will produce a regional implementation plan, working in partnership with the DfT, by Budget 2016.
- extending the Summer Budget 2015 commitment to fund the operation of TfN, with a total of £50m now committed over this Parliament. This support TfN as it develops region-wide plans
Transport users will also benefit from new powers to claim compensation from their rail tickets if their train is more than 15 minutes late and the Government will make it harder for people to claim compensation ‘for exaggerated or fraudulent whiplash claims’ under plans to reduce annual insurance costs for drivers by between £40 to £50 a year.
Elsewhere in infrastructure investment £2.3bn will be spent on over 1,500 flood defence schemes across the country protecting 300,000 homes.