Earlier today Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the government is cancelling the rest of the HS2 project which includes the high speed rail connect between Birmingham and Manchester. In its place, the Government has launched a ‘£36 billion plan to improve our country’s transport: Network North’. The plan is described as ‘a long-term plan for every region of the country, with unprecedented levels of investment in our towns, cities, and rural areas’.
Key points from the plan include:
- Phase 1 of HS2 between Birmingham and London, with a rescoped Euston station, will be completed.
- The government will allocate £4 billion for local transport across the North’s six city regions
- The £2 bus fare will no longer end in four weeks as planned – it will be extended until the end of 2024 across England.
- The government will invest £12 billion to better connect Manchester to Liverpool. This would allow the delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail as previously planned, including high-speed lines. They say they will work with local leaders to agree whether they wish to suggest other ways to achieve the objectives within that cost envelope.
- The funding will be used to change the approach to transport infrastructure in this country in line with three priorities:
a. To drive better connectivity within our towns, suburbs and cities, including additional funding to develop mass transit systems, improve bus networks, enhance roads in city regions; and new funding for local transport authorities in rural counties, smaller cities and towns in every part of the North and Midlands outside the largest cities.
b. To drive better connectivity between our towns and cities, they will develop a modern Network North, cutting journey times, increasing capacity and frequency; and deliver the Midlands Rail Hub to benefit more than 50 stations serving 7 million people.
c. And to improve everyday local journeys for people, such as more buses and better roads, tackle potholes and support hundreds of bus routes in the North and Midlands
- The government are creating a brand new £2.5 billion fund to transform local transport in 14 rural counties, smaller cities and towns in every part of the North outside the big city regions: everywhere from Cumbria to North Yorkshire, Cheshire to Lincolnshire, and Hull to Lancashire.
- They will provide over £700 million to fund a new wave of Bus Service Improvement Plans in the North – enabling more buses and more frequent routes, including projects such as new bus services to Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital; doubling the service between Northwich and Chester; and more buses to industrial estates and business parks
- The plan says the government will share an additional £100 million between the North and Midlands to support the development and rollout of London-style contactless and smart ticketing, supporting seamless travel by enabling contactless or smartcard payment
- They will commit an additional £3.3 billion to tackle potholes as part of an ‘unprecedented’ new nationwide road resurfacing scheme