Department for Transport written statement – made on 9th March 2023.
During this Parliament there has been a step change in public investment in infrastructure. The Autumn Statement protected the public capital budget at record levels, meaning government will invest over £600 billion over the next five years. The Chancellor has announced over £40bn of capital investment in transport across the next two financial years, which will drive significant improvements to rail and roads right across our country.
Since agreeing this programme, we have seen headwinds from inflation, triggered by the impact of Putin's illegal war in Ukraine, as well as supply chain disruption as the global economy recovers from the effects of Covid-19.
These headwinds have made it difficult to deliver on our capital programmes, and we recognise that some schemes are going to take longer than expected. Refocusing our efforts will allow us to double down on delivering the rest of our capital programme. This will place our transport investments on a sustainable footing and allow us to support the Government’s priorities of halving inflation, growing the economy and reducing debt.
In terms of major road investments, Road Investment Strategy (RIS) 2 schemes will continue to progress. The A27 Arundel and A5036 Princess Way in Liverpool both face a range of challenges including environmental considerations and ongoing scope and design changes to ensure stakeholders’ views are fully considered. As a result, these schemes will be deferred to RIS 3 (covering 2025 – 2030). Other schemes earmarked for RIS 3 will continue to be developed, in line with the statutory process, but for consideration for inclusion during RIS 4 (beyond 2030). Given many of these schemes were previously expected towards the end of RIS 3, this extra time will help ensure better planned and efficient schemes can be deployed more effectively.
To date we have spent over £800m on planning the Lower Thames Crossing. It is one of the largest planning applications ever, and it is important we get this right. We remain committed to the Lower Thames Crossing, and the Development Consent Order process will be an important opportunity to consult further to ensure there is an effective and deliverable plan. In order to allow time for this process, and given wider pressures on RIS, we will look to rephase construction by 2 years.
In rail, HS2 is making good progress, and we have already spent over £20 billion delivering Phase One between London and the West Midlands, supporting 2,500 businesses and creating over 29,000 jobs. The Government is prioritising HS2’s initial services between Old Oak Common in London and Birmingham Curzon Street to provide delivery of passenger benefits as soon as possible. We remain committed to delivering HS2 services to Euston, and will address affordability pressures to ensure the overall spending profile is manageable. We will therefore take the time to ensure we have an affordable and deliverable station design, delivering Euston alongside high-speed infrastructure to Manchester. We continue to take the High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill through Parliament, and the Crewe-to-Manchester section will also form the foundations for improved rail services in the North through Northern Powerhouse Rail.
The Government is committed to delivering HS2 Phase 2a between Birmingham and Crewe. We have seen significant inflationary pressure and increased project costs, and so we will rephase construction by two years, with an aim to deliver high-speed services to Crewe and the North West as soon as possible after accounting for the delay in construction. Work continues on progressing commitments made in the Integrated Rail Plan to develop HS2 East, the proposed route for HS2 services between the West and East Midlands, and to consider the most effective way to take HS2 trains to Leeds. HS2 continues to represent a very significant investment into our national infrastructure, levelling up communities right across our country, providing a net-zero alternative to car travel and domestic flights, and training a skilled workforce for the UK’s future construction industry.
We remain committed to supporting all forms of transport and have invested over £850m in active travel between 2020/21 and 2022/23. Despite the need to deliver efficiency in all areas of our budget, we will still commit to spend at least a further £100m capital into active travel over the remainder of the spending period, as part of a total of around £3bn investment in active travel over this Parliament, including from City and Region Sustainable Transport settlements and National Highways. We will review these levels as soon as practically possible.
These are the difficult but responsible decisions we are taking, that put the priorities of the British people first, in controlling inflation and reducing government debt. They continue our record investment into our national infrastructure, which will continue to play a vital role in growing our economy and delivering long-term prosperity.