Transport Infrastructure

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th July 2018.

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Photo of Gillian Keegan Gillian Keegan Conservative, Chichester 12:00 am, 5th July 2018

What assessment he has made of the effect of operationally efficient transport infrastructure on levels of productivity.

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport

Transport infrastructure has an important role to play in helping to increase our productivity. That is why we have set out to more than double our capital investment in transport over the decade to 2020, and why it is a central part of our industrial strategy.

Photo of Gillian Keegan Gillian Keegan Conservative, Chichester

Many of my constituents in Chichester and the surrounding area lose hours and hours each week sitting in traffic on the A27. That has a knock-on negative impact on productivity, the local economy and the environment. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that road investment decisions for areas such as Chichester, which are already over capacity, are prioritised in the road infrastructure investments for 2020 to 2025?

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend, who has been doing a fantastic job of trying to get the A27 project back on track. I am absolutely aware of its importance to her constituency and to the south coast. It is important that the community in Chichester reaches a consensus about the right option, and of course I then want to see the project go ahead.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

The Secretary of State knows the effect on productivity in places such as Yorkshire and my constituency. On the 70th anniversary of the NHS, when we wish all those workers a very good day, is it not a fact that many of them are struggling to get to work because of his policies and his lack of sense of direction on transport infrastructure?

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport

Actually is this Government who are investing in rail and are providing new trains right across the north; who have just opened the last stretch of motorway-grade road between London and Newcastle; who are investing money in smart motorways; and who are putting money into Leeds, to ensure better connectivity there, and into towns and cities around the north. I wish Opposition Members would start to talk up the north and the improvements that are happening, rather than talking it down and pretending nothing is happening.

Photo of Mark Menzies Mark Menzies Conservative, Fylde

I have a wonderful piece of transport infrastructure in my constituency called Blackpool airport. Will the Secretary of State tell me what steps will be taken to ensure that with a third runway at Heathrow, we will see improved connectivity to my part of the north-west?

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport

This is why I am committed to saying that the 15% of slots set aside for regional connections are set in stone. We are not going to see those suddenly disappear from 15% to 10% to 5%, with routes diverted elsewhere. The expansion of Heathrow is a really important part of delivering improvements right around the United Kingdom, and I am committed to making sure that happens.[This section has been corrected on 12 July 2018, column 8MC — read correction]

Photo of Jessica Morden Jessica Morden Opposition Whip (Commons)

This summer, my constituents who commute by rail have had to put with up with delays, cancellations and ineffective bus services as a result of work on the great western main line, and we now learn that equipment is rusting in the Severn tunnel. Although the infrastructure investment is welcome, will the Minister ensure that this is not an excuse for train operating companies to provide a reduced quality service? Will he also ensure that there is no more disruption than there needs to be?

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport

This is one of the great conundrums. We are spending money around the country and it is impossible to deliver investment without some disruption. I absolutely would not accept a train company using that as an opportunity to do things that are not right for passengers, but we have to accept that if we are going to modernise different parts of our road and rail infrastructure, some disruptive consequences are inevitable, however much we might wish that was not the case.