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Rishi Sunak Thinking

#SR21 – A £6.9 billion local transport revolution to level up commutes and journey times across England’s cities is expected to be announced by the Chancellor at next week’s Budget and Spending Review.

Rishi Sunak is set to pump £5.7 billion into sustainable transport settlements for city regions to boost productivity through train and station upgrades and the expansion of tram networks in cities outside of London. 

He will also announce £1.2 billion of new funding to transform bus services, as part of the £3 billion committed by the Prime Minister.  This will deliver Transport for London-style improvements to speed up journey times, simplify fares and increase the number of services outside of the capital.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

“Great cities need great transport and that is why we’re investing billions to improve connections in our city regions as we level up opportunities across the country.

“There is no reason why somebody working in the North and Midlands should have to wait several times longer for their bus or train to arrive in the morning compared to a commuter in the capital.

“This transport revolution will help redress that imbalance as we modernise our local transport networks so they are fit for our great cities and those people who live and work in them.”

As part of the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements, funding will be allocated for projects in Greater Manchester (£1.07billion), West Yorkshire (£830 million), South Yorkshire (£570 million), West Midlands (£1.05 billion), Tees Valley (£310 million), West of England (£540 million) and Liverpool City Region (£710 million).

This will enable projects such as cutting-edge carriages for Greater Manchester’s Metrolink, an expansion of tram networks in South Yorkshire and the West Midlands, and battery packs for Merseyrail trains to extend its network.

As part of the Prime Minister’s £3 billion commitment to transform bus services across the country, the Spending Review will include a new, dedicated £1.2 billion programme to improve infrastructure, fares and services outside of London. Places will be selected in the coming months to benefit from this investment. 

This funding will deliver integrated fares and ticketing, so that bus users can enjoy simpler, cheaper fares like those enjoyed already by passengers in London. As well as additional services across the weekdays, weekends and evenings, and ambitious new bus priority measures to speed up journeys on busy roads.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“We’re absolutely committed to building back better and boosting regional economies right across the country, and these investments are a clear example of how we’re doing that.

 “Modernising our transport network sits at the heart of our levelling up agenda. This funding will serve as a catalyst for the regeneration of towns and cities by improving infrastructure and ensuring more people have better access to jobs and education.”

Claire Walker, Co-Executive Director, British Chambers of Commerce, said: 

“It’s great to see the Chancellor recognise the importance of local infrastructure in driving our economy forward and levelling up communities across the country. 

“This investment will be a welcome boost toward that goal and will also be vital in achieving our net zero targets by funding more efficient, reliable and greener public transport. 

“Chambers of Commerce have also long argued for flexible fares and simplified ticketing, but we really need those delivered at pace to make a difference. Critical to making all of this work is delivering HS2 in full.” 

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: 

“I am absolutely delighted that our ambition has paid off and we’ve secured more than £1billion of Government investment to continue our transport revolution here in the West Midlands.

“It is the largest single transport sum we have ever received, and I know the team cannot wait to press on and start getting diggers in the ground on some truly game-changing schemes.

“From more Metro lines and train stations, to new bus routes and EV charging points, this cash will help us to continue to build a clean, green transport network that connects communities and tackles the climate emergency.”

Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, said: 

“This is another huge day for the region that will help us go further in giving people from across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool the transport network that they are crying out for and deserve.

“I have been in discussions with ministers for months to make sure we get our fair share of government cash. If the government is serious about levelling up, it needs to prove it doesn’t just want to improve the roads and tube links of London, we need to see real investment in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool – and this is another example of them doing exactly that.

“Every part of our transport network in the region will be touched, with our critical practical schemes such as major station renovation and road improvements sitting alongside funding for more innovative projects like low-emission vehicles and smart traffic lights.

“As we recover our economy following the coronavirus pandemic, we need people to be able to get in, out and around our region easier, smoother and more reliably than ever before, especially given recent opportunities such as Government’s Northern Economic Campus and the Teesside Freeport. All of these game changing projects deserve a first-class transport system to match, and this money will help with my plan to overhaul our roads, trains and buses, giving us the vital 21st century infrastructure we have been crying out for.

“This funding will help us transform transport and help people reconnect and get to vital services while boosting investment and making it more efficient for freight and businesses to access key sites such as Teesworks. There’s a lot more in the pipeline and we’ll continue to work with Government to access all of the funding available to make our ambitious plans a reality.”

The Devolved Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive additional funding through the Barnet formula because of this investment for England – this will be outlined in full at the Spending Review.

  • An assessment by the National Infrastructure Commission highlighted local transport networks, particularly public transport, as a big weakness of many of England’s city regions compared to London and European cities. It said that this was hampering productivity, jobs and wages. 
  • According to the Centre for Cities,  in the morning rush hour, all of the residents of Lyon and 80% of the residents of Marseille can reach their city centre in half an hour. But in Birmingham only 35% can. While motorists in Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester spend over 50 hours a year stuck in traffic. This represents lost time for workers, families and businesses. 
  • The government has committed to addressing this problem through the National Infrastructure Strategy, which was published last year. This investment forms part of that pledge.
  •  The £6.9 billion funding is comprised of: the five-year £5.7 billion City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements (which have been increased from an initial £4.2 billion proposed) and £1.2 billion funding for buses (which is part of £3 billion committed by the Prime Minister). This £6.9 billion is being fully funded at this year’s Spending Review. 


DfT allocation

This provides the funding to deliver projects such as:

Greater Manchester


  • Next generation Metrolink tram-train vehicles
  • New bus corridors and interchanges in Ashton-Under-Lyne and Bury.
  • Creating a 140-mile active travel network across Greater Manchester

South Yorkshire


  • Starting Supertram renewal
  • Bus priority expansions via signalised junctions using real time detection
  • Bus and Active Travel priority corridors, incl. the development of a “Dutch style” roundabout in Barnsley Town Centre.

West Yorkshire


  • West Bradford-Cycle Superhighway Extension
  • Improving the A61 between Wakefield and Leeds for buses, cyclists and pedestrians, and giving buses greater priority in Wakefield
  • An enhanced electric vehicle programme in Kirklees, including the provision of charging on residential streets

Liverpool City Region


  • Battery packs for new Merseyrail trains to expand the reach of the existing network
  • New and rejuvenated stations in Liverpool and Runcorn
  • A multimodal interchange in St Helens to link housing, employment and developable land

Tees Valley


  • Upgrades to Darlington and Middlesbrough stations, improving rail links through the Tees Valley
  • A programme of bus corridor improvements, strengthening public transport links between towns, including Redcar to Middlesbrough
  • Creating new, safe active travel links from Redcar Town Centre and South Bank to Teesworks, providing better sustainable access to a major employment site.

West Midlands


  • Metro extension, including the completion of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill extension (2023)
  • New Transit Stations for ultra-rapid electric vehicle charging
  • Completion of Sprint Phase 2 bus rapid transit across Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country

West of England


  • A4 corridor improvements, including a fully prioritised bus route between Bristol and Bath
  • Improving links from the Somer Valley into both Bath (A367) and Bristol (A37)
  • Improved pedestrian and cycling access across Bath including in Cheap Street/Westgate Street and Kingsmead Square.   

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