COVID-19: Rail franchises suspended, bus and coach firms seek £1bn

Empty bus station - Covid 19

The DfT has temporarily suspended rail franchises in response to the Covid-19 pandemic that has prompted patronage to collapse. All revenue and cost risk has passed to the Government, with operators being paid a management fee.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport has called for £1bn of Government emergency support for bus and coach operators over the next three months.

Transport for the London’s preliminary estimate is that the virus could reduce fare revenues by £500m. Its annual revenues are normally £5bn.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has suspended the congestion charge. London Councils has suspended the London Lorry Control Scheme.

Launch of the UK’s first charging clean air zones, in Birmingham and Leeds may be delayed. They were supposed to launch this summer.

Local elections have been postponed until next May.

Review of HE’s role in the conurbations

The DfT is to study the role of Highways England’s Strategic Road Network in combined authority areas.

The project will consider “balancing the desire to better integrate these roads with local planning and transport operations while not adversely impacting on their national strategic role”.

“Options such as improved collaboration on operations and changes in road ownership,” will be considered.

FirstGroup abandons plan to sell UK bus businesses

FirstGroup is to retain its UK bus businesses and sell its North American businesses instead.

FirstGroup announced plans to quit the UK bus sector last summer. But new chairman David Martin said this month that selling the North American First Transit and First Student businesses was “the best way to unlock material value for all FirstGroup shareholders”.

£27.4bn five-year funding deal for Highways England

The DfT has announced a £27.4bn five-year funding settlement for Highways England, covering the years 2020/21 to 2024/25.

Enhancements include dualling the A66 Transpennine corridor; building the Lower Thames Crossing between Kent and Thurrock; and the A303 tunnel at Stonehenge.

£1bn Transforming Cities Fund awarded

The Government has awarded about £1bn to nine urban areas of England for public transport and active travel through the Transforming Cities Fund.

The Leeds City Region has received the largest share, £317m.

Other recipients are the North East (£198m); Sheffield City Region (£166m); Derby and Nottingham (£161m); Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (£79m); Southampton (£57m); Plymouth (£51m); Preston (£40m); and Leicester (£33m).

Three areas named Future Mobility Zones

The West of England Combined Authority, Derby and Nottingham, and Solent Transport will receive a share of the DfT’s £90m Future Mobility Zones fund.

Solent Transport’s bid included trialling drone deliveries for the NHS between the mainland and the Isle of Wight. Derby and Nottingham’s bid includes establishing electric mobility hubs.

The West Midlands conurbation was named the first Future Mobility Zone in 2018.

Five-year transport deals for combined authorities

Eight of England’s combined authorities look set to receive five-year transport funding settlements worth a collective £4.2bn under proposals announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The areas are: West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, West Midlands, Liverpool City Region, Tyne and Wear, the West of England [Bristol area], Sheffield City Region, and Tees Valley.

The Treasury will initially hold discussions with three areas: Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and the West Midlands.

About the Author

This post was written by Andrew Forster. Andrew Forster edits the fortnightly magazine Local Transport Today, covering transport policy and practice from across the UK. To subscribe to Local Transport Today, click here.

Andrew Forster

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