UK Budget 2012 rail spending: the verdict is in

21 March 2012 (Last Updated March 21st, 2012 18:30)

Yesterday's 2012 UK Budget saw heavy investment for the Northern Hub rail network, along with other big announcements. We round-up expert comment from around the country to find out how the government's rail spending was received.

UK Budget 2012 rail spending: the verdict is in

Network Rail chief executive David Higgins:

"The announcement of further funding for the initial stages of the Northern Hub is a welcome show of confidence in rail bringing benefits to passengers, as well as driving economic growth. To realise the project's total value of £4bn to the Northern economy and create between 20,000 and 30,000 new jobs, the final stages of funding will need to be supported in the rail budgets to be announced later this year.

"When completed, this project will be a clear demonstration of how investment in smart infrastructure can unlock economic potential by connecting commerce and communities across cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle, with 700 new train services each day."

North West Rail Campaign director Susan Williams (on the Northern Hub):

"This is very positive news. It is good to know the Chancellor realises the importance of infrastructure improvements to the economy. We will keep up the pressure on the Secretary of State for Transport before a final decision is made in July to fund the whole of the Northern Hub scheme."

Roevin managing director Mark Tully:

"The Chancellor's Budget demonstrates continuing commitment to infrastructure investment as a catalyst for wider economic growth. This is set to deliver a real boost for the engineering jobs market.

"Government and industry must now work together and invest in nurturing engineering talent to deliver on these long-term policy initiatives. From house-building to road and train infrastructure improvements, the government's investment pledges will provide extensive opportunities for UK engineers."

Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) head of policy Paul Davies:

"We are warning the government that all UK infrastructure needs to be designed as part of a single system of systems so that they support and enhance each other. This requires the sharing of key information and experience across sectors."


UK transport budget graph

The percentage of the UK's total spending allocated to transport expenditure has remained stable for the last few years.


Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) chief executive Michael Roberts:

"Our railways are busier now than at any time since the 1920s, so we need to keep on investing in more trains and better services for passengers. Train companies have consistently argued for the need to link up more effectively many Northern cities with faster, more frequent services to help drive economic growth and ensure more people get a seat at busier times of the day.

"It's good news that the coalition government continues to recognise the need for sustained and targeted investment in the railways, even during tough economic times. The industry has set out proposals for a much broader programme of investment in the 'Northern Hub' and we look forward to further announcements about how this can be taken forward."

KPMG head of infrastructure, building and construction Richard Threlfall:

"The big news was the deal with Manchester. Under the agreement with the Treasury, as the Manchester economy grows and generates additional taxes, a proportion of these taxes can be used on local Manchester transport projects.

"The city will reclaim £30m a year from the Treasury and reinvest it in further infrastructure development, which could include new roads or light rail extensions. Manchester is the first city to secure such a deal and we can confidently predict the UK's other major cities rapidly forming a queue at the Treasury's door."

Technology Strategy Board chief executive Iain Gray (on establishment of Future Cities and Transport Catapult centres):

"Both future cities and transport systems will be incredibly important areas of growth in the next ten to 15 years. The market opportunity for integrated city systems is estimated to be worth £200bn a year by 2030.

"The market opportunity for effective transport systems is already valued at more than £190bn a year. The proposed Catapult centres in each of these areas will help UK businesses gain an important share of these markets through more rapid commercialisation of new ideas."

UK Transport Minister Theresa Villiers:

"I warmly welcome the plan to establish a Transport Systems Catapult centre. I can see such a centre making a significant contribution to reducing road congestion, reducing rail delays and improving end-to-end journeys by bringing together companies to develop new innovative products and services.

"These will benefit both the UK transport system and help UK companies to sell these innovative solutions to the rest of the world. The DfT has set aside £17m to support this centre, which is in addition to the Technology Strategy Board contribution."