26 January 2021
Transport secretary, Grant Shapps has announced a £794m investment to boost rail links in the North and South, reopening one line, speeding up the delivery of another and investing in the third and final rail ‘Idea Fund’.
Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said: “A lack of infrastructure is often cited as a reason that development cannot come forward. This funding goes a long way to show that the Government is willing to invest in existing transport needs, as well as opening up new ones. Better connectivity means better placemaking.”
The funding, which includes £760m for the delivery of the next phase of East West Rail between Bicester and Bletchley and £34m for the Northumberland Line between Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and Ashington, will go a long way to allay local fears that new developments are being planned without adequate consideration of public transport needs.
The East West route is a reopening of a line, something at the heart of the Government’s commitments. Shapps, said: “Restoring railways helps put communities back on the map and this investment forms part of our nationwide effort to build back vital connections and unlock access to jobs, education and housing.
Northumberland County Council Leader Glen Sanderson, appeared to agree, saying: “The Northumberland Line will bring a huge boost to the area in terms of economic growth, housing, employment and education opportunities, as well as providing a fast and efficient new transport link between the south east of the county and Tyneside."
New stations will be added at Ashington, Bedlington, Blyth Bebside, Newsham, Seaton Delaval and Northumberland Park, in North Tyneside
The ‘Ideas Fund’, which has already seen two rounds of investments will run until 5 March 2021, with successful bids due to be announced in summer 2021.
Beresford, continued: “Public transport is at the heart of Britain’s zero carbon aspirations to build back better but the Government must also recognise that if it is to also implement its levelling up agenda, this tax payer money needs to support the businesses who train and retain our construction workers and apprentices; our SMEs!”