Figures on public sector expenditure at a regional level are part of the Government’s Country and Regional Analysis (CRA) statistics. These provide statistical allocations of public spending according to where the benefits of that spend are accrued.
The latest CRA statistics, published by Treasury in November 2017, present data up to 2016-17 and are published at:
The statistics include spend on transport by all public sector organisations including the Department for Transport, Local Authorities, Public Corporations (in the case of transport, this is mainly spend by London Underground) and other Government Departments including devolved administrations.
The most recent statistics up to 2016/17 are presented in the table below. These show total public expenditure on national railways by region, and reflect the levels of both ‘capital’ and ‘current’ (resource) expenditure.
It is important to note however that it is challenging, when talking about a system or network such as the railway, to accurately break down regional spending in a meaningful way.
As a network, where the expenditure takes place on the railway is not always an accurate reflection of where the benefits are felt. An investment in one part of the country may improve the journeys of all the people passing through that area, providing network benefits that, whilst difficult to account for, are spread beyond the immediate region concerned. For example, improvements to the rail network in Birmingham can benefit services all the way from Edinburgh to Penzance.
The life-spans of railway assets also present a challenge when considering the regional spread of infrastructure funding at any single point in time. The 25-40 year lives of some assets naturally mean that there will be a cyclical nature to replacing them that does not lend itself to an even split of funding across all regions within say a five year period. For example whilst a project like Crossrail has recently caused a spike in expenditure concentrated in London during construction, significant enhancement work on the West Coast Main Line was completed towards the end of the 2000s, meaning that further significant spend on that line could be expected to occur not over the past five years but in future periods[MS1] .
Regarding spend in London, London has a substantial number of daily commuters and visitors, both domestically and internationally, who will be using and benefitting from the public transport networks in London but who aren’t residents in London. The unique scale and urban density of London by comparison to other parts of the country also means that it is particularly adapted to large scale public transport networks. Key parts of the rail network serve as international travel ‘hubs’ for the whole of the country. For geographic reasons, many of these are concentrated in London and the South East, for example, the UK's sole rail link to continental Europe (via St Pancras International and the Channel Tunnel[MS2] ).Total annual public sector expenditure on railways (£millions, nominal)
1Due to the reclassification of Network Rail into the public sector from 2015/16, care should be taken when making historical comparisons.
[MS1]From evidence to the TSC
[MS2]From previous PQs.