HS2 will go ahead alongside “radical improvements” to local transport networks across the whole country, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed last week.
In a statement to Parliament he set out that after consideration of the independent Oakervee review, the decision has been taken to proceed with the high speed north-south link.
And he announced that the Government will start treating HS2 north of Birmingham, Northern Powerhouse Rail and other local rail improvements, as part of one integrated masterplan, ‘High Speed North’.
Alongside this, Johnson outlined his vision for “a revolution in local transport” to ensure that towns and cities in every region “have the modern, joined up network needed to fire up economic growth”.
The government has pledged £5bn over five years to transform buses and cycling will deliver at least 4,000 “British built” new zero emission buses, higher frequency services (including evenings and weekends), more affordable, simpler fares, and new priority schemes to make routes more efficient.
The fund will also help build over 250 miles of new, high quality separated cycle routes, and dozens of ‘Mini-Holland’ schemes to make town centres safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
“Delivering better, faster and more reliable transport connections is the way to close the opportunity gap across this country,” said Johnson. “But it is not and never will be an ‘either/or’ between big projects and local services.
“Dramatic improvements to local transport and the decision to proceed with HS2 will shift this country’s centre of gravity away from the capital and transform connectivity between our towns and cities.”
Meanwhile, underlining the links between transport investment and the Government’s efforts to boost prosperity in the North of England, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was last week appointed Cabinet Minister in charge of Northern Powerhouse.
These announcements have been welcomed by representatives of the UK’s bus and rail industries.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators, freight companies and Network Rail, said: “These are crucial decisions that will turbo-charge rail’s role in levelling up Britain’s economy. Taken together, HS2 and High Speed North represent vital investment to improve today’s railway and, through seamless integration with the existing tracks, build a reimagined rail network for the next 100 years.”
Responding to the Government’s announcement that £5bn will be made available to walking and cycling over the next five years Confederation of Passenger Transport Chief Executive Graham Vidler said: “This is welcome news for bus passengers and a strong statement of support for the role of buses in tackling environmental, social and economic issues.
“It is vital that this funding is used to make sustainable, long-term improvements to bus services. We’ll be working with Government to ensure investment is focused on tackling congestion and supporting the bus industry’s bold plans to transition to zero emission vehicles.”
About the Author
This post was written by Robert Jack. Robert is Managing Editor and Publisher of Passenger Transport. He has worked as a journalist, editor and publisher in the passenger transport sector for 18 years. He has played a key role in many transport-related conferences and events.