Budget to inject £300m into priority transport projects
George Osborne will use tomorrow’s Budget to commit £60m to developing a high-speed rail link from Leeds to Manchester, dubbed HS3, another £75m to work up the Trans-Pennine tunnel proposal and tackle M60 congestion, and £161m for M62 improvements around Warrington and Rochdale.
The funding is partly old as it follows earlier announcements of cash for feasibility studies for the projects, although levels of spend were not detailed before.
The Lord Adonis-led National Infrastructure Commission backed all of the projects in a report published today. Osborne will say that a full blueprint for HS3 will be drawn up by next year. The initial cost of improvements to bring journey times on the existing line down from 49 to 40 minutes between Manchester and Leeds by 2022 is estimated by Lord Adonis at £2bn. A further £2bn-£3bn would be needed to link HS3 to HS2, a Y-shaped rail link starting in London and splitting to Manchester and Leeds.
Lord Adonis also recommends improvements to Lime Street station in Liverpool, although no details were provided.
Crossrail 2 in London, which will be the subject of legislation planned to be introduced in this Parliament, will receive development funding of £80m, due to be matched by Transport for London.
The Chancellor will also launch a £1.2bn fund to release brownfield land to build more than 30,000 ‘starter homes’ across the country.
The £60m for HS3 will be used “to develop detailed plans to reduce journey times towards 30 minutes, as well as plans for improving links between the North’s other major cities.”
The £75m for exploring options for a Trans-Pennine tunnel between Sheffield and Manchester will also be used to look at options to enhance the A66, A69 and the north-west quadrant of the M60.
The largest slice of funding, £161m for Highways England, will be used to accelerate upgrades to the M62 between junction 10-12 Warrington to Eccles and junction 20-25 Rochdale to Brighouse.
Osborne said: “With the difficulties we see in the global economy, we’ve got to make Britain fit for the future. Now is the time for us to make the bold decisions and the big investments that will help us to lead the world in infrastructure, and create jobs, push up living standards and boost our productivity for the next generation.
“That’s what my Budget this week sets out to do.
“We set up the National Infrastructure Commission to think for the long term, plan for the future and help us lead the world.
“I want to thank Lord Adonis and the National Infrastructure Commission for their excellent work in setting out the long term priorities for London and the Northern Powerhouse, which I am determined to deliver.”
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We know that good transport doesn’t just help get people around, it helps them get on. The National Infrastructure Commission has rightly identified these projects as transformational schemes that have the potential to further strengthen our economy. This is a major step forward for the Northern Powerhouse and Londoners alike.”