£12bn Growth Deals to benefit transport
Transport improvements are set to be brought about by a series of Growth Deals announced by the Government. The £12bn pledged is aimed at helping boost local economies. The money is expected to provide support for local businesses to train young people, create thousands of new jobs, build thousands of new homes and start hundreds of infrastructure projects; including transport improvements. £6bn of local projects have been agreed as the first wave of Growth Deals. This includes the complete allocation of £2bn from the Local Growth Fund for 2015 to 2016, and, because the quality of the proposals was so high, in some cases commitments are being given for following years for important long-term projects so they can get underway.
Some of the major projects that will be built as a result include an £18m revamp of the Metrolink tram system in Manchester with 12 new trams; £23m for a new road tunnel to the Wichelstowe development near Swindon; funding for Birmingham to help the city make the most of HS2, including improving connections to the Birmingham Curzon Street station. Support and advice for small and medium sized businesses and money for a new engineering training facility at the MIRA technology park are amongst other projects.
In the West Midlands, as well as a number of tram, rail and road projects, £35m of the money is also planned to be used for Sprint, a rapid transit system using tram-style buses travelling west out of Birmingham city centre along Hagley Road to Quinton and south east along the A45 towards the airport. Nearly £5m is also planned for transport improvements in the Longbridge regeneration area including an upgrade to the railway station, new cycle routes and bus interchange. Wolverhampton City Council Leader, Cllr Roger Lawrence, said, ‘If we are to safeguard and grow our economy then an efficient and affordable transport system is vital. Today’s funding announcement is a major step towards that goal and is warmly welcomed.’
In Greater Manchester, over £350m will be invested in 12 major schemes between 2015/16 and 2020/21, including new transport interchanges, new roads, new bus priority measures and more trams for Metrolink. The deal also signals progress on exploring new ways of managing Greater Manchester’s highways and bus networks.