Billions of pounds are to be redirected from HS2 to ‘hundreds of projects’ that will boost transport connections across the North and Midlands regions in England, it has been announced.
The new plans aim to radically improve travel between and within English cities and towns, and around local areas.
This includes Network North, which aims to drive better connectivity across the North and Midlands with faster journey times, increased capacity and more frequent, reliable services across rail, buses and roads.
Some £36bn will reportedly be invested – with every region set to receive the same or more transport investment as a result of the change.
This comprises £19.8bn for projects in the North, £9.6bn reinvested in the Midlands and £6.5bn for the rest of the country.
A further £12bn will reportedly be set aside for faster connectivity between Liverpool and Manchester, with the delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail as previously planned, including high-speed lines.
According to the UK government, more than four million people in cities in the North cannot currently reach their city centre by public transport within half an hour, while rail reportedly accounts for just 8% of distances travelled and 2% of all journeys.
By redirecting funds originally earmarked for phase 2 of HS2 – which is said to account for more than one-third of all government’s transport investments – the much maligned planned high-speed rail service will now run between Euston in central London and the West Midlands.
HS2 trains for Manchester, Liverpool and Scotland will instead join the West Coast Main Line.
According to the government, trains will run from Euston to central Birmingham in 49 minutes, 30 minutes faster than now; from Euston to Manchester in 1 hr 40 minutes, 27 minutes faster than now; and from Euston to Liverpool in 1 hr 45 minutes, 26 minutes faster than now.
Transport infrastructure improvement projects for the North include:
- £2bn for a new station at Bradford and a new connection to Manchester;
- £2.5bn to deliver a new mass transit system in West Yorkshire;
- £3bn for upgraded and electrified lines between Manchester and Sheffield, Sheffield and Leeds, Sheffield and Hull, and Hull-Leeds;
- Nearly £4bn more funding for local transport in the North’s six city regions;
- A new £2.5bn fund for local transport across all areas in the North outside the six city regions – smaller cities, counties, towns and countryside;
- A new £3.3bn fund for road resurfacing;
- Landmark investments in roads, reopened train lines and new stations
Transport infrastructure improvement projects in the Midlands include:
- Funding the Midlands Rail Hub in full with £1.75bn, connecting 50 stations and more 7 million people – doubling capacity and frequency;
- More than £1.5bn guaranteed local transport funding for the new East Midlands Mayor;
- More than £1bn extra local transport funding for West Midlands City Region;
- A new £2.2bn fund for local transport across all areas in the West and East Midlands outside the city regions – smaller cities, counties, towns and countryside;
- Reopened train lines and new stations such as the Ivanhoe Line;
- The development of Midlands road schemes to benefit businesses and their employees at Rolls Royce, Toyota and Magna Park
Transport infrastructure improvement projects for the rest of the country include:
- Rail improvements in the Southwest;
- Keeping the £2 bus fare until the end of December 2024;
- Ensuring the delivery of road schemes;
- Transforming Ely Junction; and billions to fix potholes on the country’s roads;
- Greater connectivity for both Scotland and Wales with improvements to the A75 between Gretna and Stranraer, and £1bn to fund the electrification of the North Wales Main Line
To ensure regions are best equipped to reach their productivity potential, local authorities and metro mayors will be empowered to create the public transport networks that respond to the needs of their communities.
The government said it will also set out a broader package of infrastructure planning reforms in the coming months to “remove burdens to building to ensure these projects are delivered and benefits felt in communities more quickly”.
Innovations and achievements in public transport will be highlighted and celebrated at the second annual CiTTi Awards on 21 November 2023 at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London. Visit www.cittiawards.co.uk to learn more about this unmissable event for the UK’s transportation sector – and to book your table today!