The Government will invest around £360 million in road and railway projects to help ‘build back better’ from Covid-19, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced today (August 21).
The investment is being made alongside the creation of an ‘Acceleration Unit’ to speed up transport infrastructure projects.
Funding includes £343m of improvements to Wales' railways, with plans to upgrade Cardiff Central station, introduce digital signalling on the 241-kilometre Cambrian line from Shrewsbury Sutton Bridge Junction to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli, and proposals to speed up journeys between Cardiff and Swansea, Chester and Llandudno Junction, and the Severn Tunnel and Cardiff.
Shapps also unveiled a number of other road and rail investments, including:
- £1.1 million investment for Network Rail to develop short-term plans to relieve overcrowding at London Liverpool Street station.
- Funding to complete the £6.4 million scheme to build a new second footbridge serving all four platforms at St Albans City station, easing congestion and addressing safety issues at an increasingly busy station. Work is due to start early 2021 and be complete by January 2022.
- £4 million to develop the design phase for gauge enhancement and track improvements for freight trains on Great Western, Midland Main Lines and at Darlington to allow longer intermodal freight trains to operate from Teesport to Yorkshire. The Darlington scheme will be delivered by October 2020.
- £9.74 million for signalling and infrastructure enhancements delivered on the Wessex route at Twickenham, Bracknell and Virginia Water as part of the Feltham and Wokingham Signalling Renewal Programme. This will help improve the reliability and flexibility of services starting from Easter 2021.
Highways England will also launch it Strategic Business Plan and Delivery Plan, both for 2020-2025.
The two documents will set out how the organisation will take forward the plans set out in the Government’s RIS2 strategy to improve England’s road network.
The Delivery Plan will confirm the delivery schedule for road upgrades and schemes the Government will be funding over the next five years
Shapps said: “As Britain begins to get moving once again after four months of lockdown, no-one should underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead.
“We want to accelerate Britain’s recovery by investing in vital infrastructure that will help get businesses back on their feet, create jobs to replace those that have been lost and level up our country.
“The creation of our new Acceleration Unit and investment in our roads and railways will ensure we build back better, greener and faster in the future.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said: “This £360 million investment in our roads and railways will help drive our economic recovery from coronavirus – creating jobs and levelling-up by ensuring businesses across all corners of the UK have the opportunities they need to grow.”