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Transport

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:39 pm on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Transport 4:39 pm, 5th February 2020

I have another few minutes, and I want to give other colleagues a chance to contribute, so I will conclude by mentioning a few more things, particularly promoting healthier forms of transport such as cycling and walking. A number of principles will guide our future mobility urban strategy. We are investing £2.5 billion in the Transforming Cities fund, to help cities and regions throughout England tackle congestion with greener forms of transport, particularly cycling and walking. There are brilliant examples in Manchester, for example, with the Bee Network, and in Birmingham, where there is a network to do the same things. We will be going further and faster on cycling and walking.

We have briefly touched on rail and our enthusiasm for it. It is worth mentioning the £48 billion being provided just in this particular period—control period 6 of Network Rail’s expenditure. That is without Northern Powerhouse Rail and without whatever decisions we reach on high-speed rail. The amount of money going into rail is a record in this country. I know that many colleagues were in Parliament yesterday when we discussed the £0.5 billion going into the Beeching reversal fund, reopening lines that were closed in those savage cuts in the ’60s and ’70s. As I said before, only the Labour party could think that half a billion pounds is small change. And that is just a down payment—that is where we are starting, folks. Yesterday, we had a fantastic meeting with colleagues from all parties—I have not heard any of them complain—who are interested in the reopening of their local Beeching lines, which were savagely cut, mostly under the Labour Governments of the 1970s. Some 5,000 miles of track and 2,300 stations were closed; now that we are opening them all up, all Labour Members say is that we should have done it sooner. You could not make it up.

We are absolutely to committed to the plan to get railways open, and we also take a much more realistic view when it comes to aviation. Just last night I was with representatives of the aviation sector, which has itself signed a plan to get to zero carbon by 2050. The challenge is straightforward enough with cars, because we already have the technology. It is possible with buses and it is easier with other forms of transport, but it is uniquely complex with aircraft, given their weight and the performance requirements that have until now required aviation fuel. The aviation sector’s commitment to get to zero carbon is one of the most serious challenges for this country’s transport plan. I am impressed by the sector’s ideas and the Government will work closely with it, through carbon offsetting—