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English city regions to get £7bn for public transport

Chancellor will support train, tram, bus and cycle projects in Budget

Mark Moran
23 October 2021
Chancellor Rishi Sunak
Chancellor Rishi Sunak


Nearly £7bn will be allocated to urban transport around England in next week’s Autumn Budget and Spending Review.

England’s city regions will receive a total of about £5.7bn in sustainable transport funding, with a further £1.2bn being invested in bus services.

However, only about £1.5bn of the transport funding appears to be new money. Some £4.2bn was previously announced in 2019 for cities, while the bus grants will be coming from a £3bn fund promised by prime minister Boris Johnson last year.

Chancellor 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.”

Greater Manchester will receive just over £1bn to be used on new Metrolink trams, bus corridors and the Bee Network active travel project.

West Midlands will also receive around £1bn for metro stations and bus rapid transit schemes, with West Yorkshire (£830m), South Yorkshire (£570m), Tees Valley (£310m), the West of England (£540m) and Liverpool City Region (£710m) the other beneficiaries.

The £1.2bn earmarked for buses will be allocated via a new programme aimed at improving infrastructure and services outside London. The recipients are yet to be selected.

The Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham gave a qualified welcome to the extra funding. “Infrastructure investment alone will not make levelling up feel real to the people of Greater Manchester,” he said. “That will only happen when the frequency and coverage of bus services are increased and fares are lowered to London levels.”

Andy Street, Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, said the £1bn allocation for his region was the largest single transport sum the area had ever received. Street said: “From more metro lines and train stations, to new bus routes and electric vehicle charging points, this cash will help us to continue to build a clean, green transport network that connects communities and tackles the climate emergency.”

Areas set to receive funding include:

  • Greater Manchester (£1.07bn): For next generation Metrolink tram-train vehicles; new bus corridors at Bury and Ashton-under-Lyme
  • West Midlands (£1.05bn): For projects including Metro extension, including the completion of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill extension
  • West Yorkshire (£830m): Extending the West Bradford-Cycle Superhighway and installing electric vehicle charging stations in Kirklees neighbourhoods
  • Liverpool City region (£710m): For new and renovated stations in Liverpool and Runcorn as well as an interchange project at St Helens
  • South Yorkshire (£570m): Starting a Supertram renewal project and installing a "Dutch-style" roundabout in Barnsley town centre
  • West of England (£540m): A fully prioritised bus route between Bristol and Bath
  • Tees Valley (£310m): Upgrading Darlington and Middlesbrough train stations, and improving rail links in the region.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive extra funding via the Barnett formula, the mechanism used by the UK government to calculate the allocation of additional money to the devolved nations.

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