Government announces a £5 billion pledge to improve bus and cycling services alongside HS2 announcement.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of the go ahead of HS2, there was also a £5bn announcement for new investment into vital local transport links outside London, as well as vital upgrages to local roads.

The multibillion pound package to transform buses and cycling will deliver at least 4,000 new Zero Emission buses, higher frequency services (including evenings and weekends), more affordable, simpler fares, and new priority schemes to make existing routes more efficient. The £5 billion in funding will also help build over 250 miles of new, high quality separated cycle routes, described as ‘Mini-Holland’ schemes to make town centres safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

The PM also pledged and outlined further upgrades relating to local connections including:

  • Reducing congestion and boosting the local road network across the country by accelerating local schemes to the next stage of development, including Hartlepool in the north to Melksham to Salisbury in the South West;
  • Upgrading Bristol East Junction station to tackle an identified major pinch point in the South West rail network, enabling passengers to travel in and out of Bristol more easily;
  • taking forward work to improve the A1 north of Newcastle, strengthening the link to the Scottish Border.

After thorough analysis of the benefits and impacts of the project, mainly stemming from Douglas Oakervee’s independent review of HS2, work on Phase 1 (the route between London and Birmingham) is set to start in April. Government will revive the legislation to deliver Phase 2a (connecting Birmingham to Crewe) as soon as possible so that preparation works can move forward.

Phase 2b of the project involves extending high-speed rail from the West Midlands to the North. In order to deliver the Northern Powerhouse Rail and Phase 2b as effectively as possible, the government will draw up an integrated plan for rail in the North that will have been informed by an assessment from the National Infrastructure Commission.

This will work to identify the most effective sequencing of all relevant investments in the north, and look at how the two schemes can work together alongside wider investment in transport for the north and Midlands. There will be a further focus on ensuring that lessons are learned from Phase 1 of HS2 to drive down costs.

These announcements are especially relevant considering the ever relevancy of climate change and the increased need for sustainable travel.

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