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General election 2019: Conservatives pledge £4.2bn investment in local public transport

The Conservatives have vowed to invest £4.2bn in local public transport in England if they win the upcoming general election. Credit: PA

The Conservatives have vowed to invest £4.2 billion in local public transport in England if they win the upcoming general election.

As part of a new and devolved Local Public Transport fund, local leaders in eight mayoral or combined authority areas will have the final say as to how the money is spent.

The Local Public Transport Fund will give local leaders the "control and certainty of funding they need to invest", the Conservatives say.

Under the plans, £4.2 billion will be allocated to the new fund, with more to come from the Government's former pledge of £100 billion for infrastructure investment in the new Parliament.

The eight combined authorities or joint transport committee areas which are expected to benefit include:

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The investment is expected to help projects including: a new metro or light rail in West Yorkshire - including to Dewsbury, Pudsey and Spen Valley; extensions to the Metrolink tram system in Greater Manchester - including to Stockport and Bolton; upgrades to the Tyne & Wear Metro; and new heavy rail lines in the North East.

Other likely places to see investment include: extensions to the West Midlands Metro tram - including to Solihull and Birmingham Airport; new heavy rail or tram-train services around Sheffield; rail extensions and upgrades around Liverpool; and a new MetroWest system around Bristol.

Projects which go beyond individual combined authority boundaries, such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, will be funded from different budgets. Credit: PA

Projects which go beyond individual combined authority boundaries, such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, will be funded from different budgets.

Under the Conservatives' plans, local leaders will also be given significantly more control over existing local rail services, including fares, service patterns, rolling stock and stations.

It is also hoped the money will improve buses in each of the eight areas, with a future Conservative government promising to announce a national bus strategy and a long-term funding settlement for buses at the Spending Review in 2020.

Bids for the new fund will open in 2020.

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "These plans will change the face of local transport in towns and cities across the country.

"They will kick-start the transformation of services so they match those in London, ensuring more frequent and better services, more electrification, modern buses and trains and contactless smart ticketing."

However, shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald attacked the plans as "pathetic".

"This announcement is a pathetic attempt to cover up the Government's disastrous and incompetent failure to invest in public transport," Mr McDonald said.

"Tory cuts have caused public transport fares to rise at twice the rate of wages and thousands of bus routes to be cut, worsening congestion on our roads as a result."