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Capital spending increase means HS2 construction can begin – Osborne

The government is to increase investment in major transport projects over the current Parliament by 50% to £61bn, the chancellor revealed in his Spending Review. 

It means that construction of HS2 to link the Northern Powerhouse to the south can begin. And the electrification of lines like Trans-Pennine, Midland Main Line – both of which have seen their completion dates pushed into CP6 – and Great Western can go ahead. 

George Osborne said: “The Department for Transport’s operational budget will fall by 37%.

But transport capital spending will increase by 50% to a total of £61bn – the biggest increase in a generation.” 

Following the Spending Review, Sir Peter Hendy released his long-awaited review which said that Network Rail plans to raise £1.8bn through the sale of “non-core assets” to meet the increased costs of its enhancement programme

David Sidebottom, passenger director at the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Passengers will be reassured that Sir Peter Hendy has found ways to continue with the investment in the much-welcomed and long-promised improvements. This follows years of above-inflation fare increases, increasingly crowded trains and disruptive engineering works. 

“However there are delays to schemes and new plans to bring in revenue with the sale of station retail facilities. Passengers will want to see that these new plans are robust and can be now be delivered to help rebuild trust.” 

Effective infrastructure 

Osborne also revealed that the government will establish a new £300m Transport Development Fund, supporting development work for transformative transport infrastructure projects. 

This could include providing development funding for projects such as Crossrail 2 and proposals emerging from the Northern Transport Strategy, following advice from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) at Budget 2016. 

The independent NIC, headed by Lord Adonis, will enable long-term strategic decision making to build effective and efficient infrastructure for the UK. 

Recently, Lord Adonis said that new major infrastructure projects like Crossrail 2 and HS3 should look at “wider sources of funding”, including private sector investment, rather than simply receiving money from the Treasury. 


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