Ed Thomas, UK head of transport at KPMG, comments on the transport announcements from today’s Budget. He said:
“The cancellation of the Cardiff to Swansea, Midland Mainline and Lake District electrification schemes in July was met with widespread criticism in the regions. Today’s announcement of a £1.7bn Transport Fund for Local Transport priorities, £300m for rail connections into HS2 and funding for the Tyne and Wear Metro rolling stock will be seen to go some way to redress the balance. Further devolution deals in England and new city deals in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could also give the nation’s major cities more levers to deliver their own transport investment strategies. However, whilst the new money will be welcomed, many will still question whether it is of the scale necessary to close the UK’s regional productivity gap and genuinely rebalance the economy.
“London will welcome the additional flexibility that full business rates retention will give it to fund and finance transport infrastructure. However, the announcement that work will continue on Crossrail 2 will be seen as a neutral statement, rather than an explicit green light for the scheme to progress to the next stage.
“There was also evidence that Government is being more explicit around the linkages between housing, transport and the forthcoming Industrial Strategy White Paper. Building on last week’s report by the National Infrastructure Commission, a clear connection was made between the proposed additional million homes in the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor and investment in new rail and road links along it. Whilst no new money was announced today, the scale of this housing ambition is likely to mean that Government will ultimately support the East-West rail and roads schemes that are under development with public funding. Previously it had been looking to purely privately funded solutions.”