What does Rishi Sunak's transport announcement mean for the Border region?

05.10.23 Rishi Sunak northern transport Credit: PA
Rishi Sunak used his keynote speech at the Tory Party Conference to announce the scrapping of the HS2 line between Manchester and Birmingham as well as reveal a raft of funding for promised transport projects in the North. Credit: PA

Following much speculation, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak finally confirmed the HS2 line from Birmingham to Manchester will not go ahead.

He instead used his Tory Party Conference speech to promise a £36 billion investment in transport projects in the North and Midlands.

We take a look at what this means for our region and public transport.

  • Buses

The funding of £2 bus fares was due to stop at the end of October but is being extended until December 2024. According to the UK government, these fares save passengers £12.50 for a bus journey from Lancaster to Kendal.

The government has promised a £2.5 billion fund is being created to "transform local transport" in 14 rural counties, smaller cities and towns in every part of the North including Cumbria.

  • Trains

There will be £3 billion for upgrading northern rail lines in the North of England including the Cumbrian Coast Line, which the government dubbed the 'Energy Coast Line,' between Carlisle, Workington and Barrow with a half-hourly service between Carlisle, Workington and Whitehaven.

The government says it expects there will be "major new freight demands from the new coal mine" with the overall investment in the rail networks potentially creating 18000 jobs.

Regular services would assist innovation at the Westlakes Science Park, Nuclear Academy and Sellafield.

  • Roads

An additional £460m for 21 smaller roads, which may include the Kendal Northern Access Route, the bypass that has been talked about for many years. However, councillors have told ITV Border they question whether that would be enough money to get the project off the ground.

Money could also be available for resurfacing other roads in the region. 

Scotland will benefit with funding to deliver targeted improvements on the A75 between Gretna and Stranraer – one of the main routes to get from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland, via the Cairnryan ferry.

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