THE October budget statement by Chancellor Philip Hammond concentrated on roads rather than railways, with a headline £30 billion to be spent on highways. Repairs to motorways and other roads will take a large share of the pot.
The figures for rail projects were smaller. They comprised a further £37 million to support the development of Northern Powerhouse Rail, £20 million to develop a strategic outline business case for the central section of East West Rail, between Bedford and Cambridge, and £291 million intended to ‘unlock’ 18,000 new homes in east London through unspecified improvements to the Docklands Light Railway. The Transforming Cities Fund, which will pay for better public transport and for which ten city regions have been shortlisted, has been increased to £2.4 billion.
Hopes for a project to strengthen rail resilience through south Devon have been put on hold until next summer, when plans for major improvements for the seawall at Dawlish are to be published. The Peninsula Rail Task Force, a consortium of local authorities, said it welcomed the commitment.
Meanwhile, Crossrail 2 remains uncertain. The Government said it would consider the recommendations of the Independent Affordability Review before making any decision.