Conservatives in Government are delivering a modern transport infrastructure that is essential for growth and business, as well as improving people's lives. We are reforming our railways, investing in infrastructure, building High Speed Two, and unblocking our roads – to deliver a transport system that works for the 21st Century.
The bigger picture
• We have announced £9 billion to improve our railways in what is the biggest investment in our railways since the Victorian era. We are also reforming our railway system to cut the £3.5 billion of waste going unchecked by the last Labour Government.
• The Government is investing in High Speed Two, which will stretch from London to Leeds and Manchester. HS2 will provide massive benefits, including more capacity on our trains, faster and smoother journeys and direct connections to the continent for our businesses.
• We are building new roads, investing money to tackle congestion and looking at how we can get private funding to help build our roads for the future.
• We are charging foreign HGV drivers to use our roads. British lorry drivers pay charges when they drive in Europe – we are levelling the playing field.
• To keep Britain as one of the best connected countries in the world, the Government has introduced the Civil Aviation Bill, published a draft aviation framework and has set up an independent Commission into maintaining our hub status.
Investing in HS2
Action to date
• We have committed to building ‘High Speed Two’ – a ‘Y shaped’ high speed rail network, which will provide direct high speed links between London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. The route will also have stations in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. The trains will travel at up to 225mph.
The network will be built in two phases:
- Phase 1 will open in 2026. High speed services will run between London and Birmingham. There will also be a direct link to the Channel Tunnel, via High Speed 1.
- Phase 2 will open in 2032/33. High speed services will extend from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds, with direct services added to a new Heathrow Airport station.
The benefits of the network to business are forecast to be £34-£45 billion, with around 60 per cent of the benefits of the Y network going to non-London trips. Capacity will be significantly increased, and journey times between the North, London, the south of England and Europe will be slashed.
HS2 will also create a huge number of jobs, both in building and operating the network, and also as through the regeneration that follows. It is estimated that the first phase alone could support 40,000 jobs in the areas served by HS2, and benefits on a similar scale will follow from the second phase.
The Government will legislate for HS2 in a ‘hybrid’ bill this parliament.
Investing more than £9 billion in our railways
Action to date
As well as investing in HS2, we have announced the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian era. This investment will mean faster journeys, more seats, better access to stations, greater freight links and a truly world class rail network. We are delivering the biggest expansion in railways in over 150 years, with more than £9 billion of investment across the country.
Although we inherited the biggest deficit in our peacetime history, we knew that we had to give the country the boost it needs to build great railways and make journeys better for the millions of hard working people who use the train every day.
• Crossrail will start running services in 2018.
• The £6 billion Thameslink improvements are underway, and the project will also be completed in 2018.
• The £9 billion investment programme announced in July 2012 sets out our investment priorities for 2014-2019. This includes projects like completion of the Northern Hub, electrification of the main line to Swansea and the South Wales valleys lines, and a £240 million package of improvements to the East Coast Mainline.
Reforming our railway system
Action to date
We inherited a system from the last Labour Government that wasted £3.5 billion a year. Our reforms aim to deliver £3.5 billion in efficiency savings while continuing to expand services. Achievements so far include:
• We have published the Rail Command Paper which sets out how we will deliver efficiencies and reform over the coming months and years.
• We have set out a new design of franchise which is longer and less prescriptive. These will come into force as and when existing franchises expire. The new model will give train operating companies more freedom to innovate and address passenger needs, and more incentive to invest.
• We have held a rail fares and ticketing review. This included look at rolling out measures such as smart ticketing nationally, like the Oyster card system in London.
• We have consulted on devolving decision-making on rail services in England to more local bodies.
• Efficiency savings will allow us to cut and then abolish above-inflation rises in average regulated fares.
• We will respond to both of our consultations on ticketing and devolution of decision-making in due course.
• We will look to the industry to work together more closely, so that train operating companies work with Network Rail to deliver better value for money.
Maintaining the UK as one of the best connected countries in the world
Action to date
The UK is one of the best connected countries in the world. Our airport network provides UK citizens and business with the international connections they need to trade, to visit friends and family and to go on holiday. To ensure that we maintain this leading position, we have:
- Published the Civil Aviation Bill to modernise regulation of the aviation industry. This is currently going through parliament.
- Published a draft aviation policy framework. We are currently consulting on the framework.
- Set up an independent commission into the options for maintaining our hub status.
The Conservatives opposed the building of a third runway at Heathrow. This commitment was met in the Coalition agreement. Our position on a third runway at Heathrow has not changed.
• We will pass the Civil Aviation Bill into law. This will deliver much-needed reforms to our aviation regulation system.
• We will press ahead with the consultation process on our draft aviation policy framework.
• The independent commission into aviation capacity will publish an interim report in 2013, and its final report in 2015 on options to maintain our hub status. Any decision will be taken after the next general election.
Delivering good roads
Action to date
There is an urgent need to repair the decades-long degradation of our national infrastructure and to build for the future with as much confidence and ambition as the Victorians once did. We need good roads and we don't have enough capacity in places of key demand.
- In November 2011, the Government announced a raft of infrastructure projects to improve roads up and down the country.
- In 2012, David Cameron also asked for a feasibility study of new ownership and financing models for the national roads system. The intention is to look at how we can get large-scale private investment into the national roads network from sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and other investors to increase capacity and boost economic growth. This is about getting private funding for new additional infrastructure, not charging for existing roads.
• The Department for Transport will publish their feasibility report in the Autumn 2012.
Charging HGV drivers to use our roads
Action to date
• We have consulted on measures to charge foreign-registered Heavy Goods Vehicles. At the moment, foreign-registered HGVs do not pay to use our road network, but UK-registered HGVs pay charges or tolls in most European countries.
• We will publish our formal response to the consultation later this year, but the Transport Secretary has made clear that we will legislate to charge for foreign lorries – ending the unfairness that British lorries are charged abroad, but foreign lorries are not charged here.
Taking decisive action on people who drive under the influence of drugs
Action to date
• We have introduced drug driving as a specific offence and we have drastically simplified the evidence supply process that police have to follow to convict. Those convicted will face a minimum of a year's driving ban, a possible six-month jail sentence, and a possible £5,000 fine.
• Drugyalysers, which test saliva for 13 possible drugs, will be rolled out across the country making it easier for police to collect evidence to convict drug drivers. Previously, police tested drivers for co-ordination which was more suited to testing for drunk driving.