Almost £1.5billion announced to transform transport across the North West

ITV Border looks at what this funding means for Cumbria

£1.48billion boost of reallocated HS2 funding has been announced for the North West to help people travel around rural areas.Local authorities will work with their MPs to determine the allocation of funding in their areas.The government claims this funding will mean local authorities will receive at least nine times what they currently receive for transport improvements across their local areas.

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said the new funding is "truly game-changing for the smaller cities, towns, and rural communities across the North West.He added: “This new funding boost will make a real difference to millions of people in the North West, empowering local authorities to drive economic growth, transform communities, and improve the daily transport connections that people rely on for years to come.”The funding comes from money originally allocated to the cancelled northern leg of HS2 last year.Mr Harper said: "It's part of the decision we took last year to cancel the second phase of HS2 - £36billion of savings, every penny spent on transport and spent in the parts of the country that it was going to be spent.

The transport minister insisted that this reallocation of funding would allow local authorities to invest in their own transport systems: "I'm going to insist that they talk to their local members of parliament, and it will be them talking to their local communities about what their transport priorities are - so they're not my transport priorities, they're local transport priorities."It will be for what local people want to see.He said this approach will instead "deliver more benefits to more people more quickly," recognising that "the vast majority of journeys that people take are local ones and it's to give local councils the investment in their local transport systems."

The Local Transport Fund is designed for rural communities in the North and Midlands where the cancelled leg of HS2 would've run Credit: PA Images

Plans set out by the government will give local authorities long term certainty to invest in improvements from 2025 through to 2032 including:

  • Building new roads and improving junctions

  • Installing or expanding mass transit systems

  • Improving roads by filling in potholes and better street lighting for personal safety

  • Improving journey times for car and bus users by tackling congestion

  • Increasing the number of EV chargepoints

  • Refurbishing bus and rail stations

  • Improving our streets so they are safer to walk children to school and increasing accessibility for all.

Lord Patrick McLoughlin, Chair of Transport for the North said: "We welcome this funding for our local transport areas as a sign of progress towards transforming the north to a more inclusive, sustainable and better-connected region. "TfN look forward to working with government and local leaders, because we know that the travelling public will get better results the more locally the decisions are made on how those services should be provided.”

Labour have said plans do not go far enough, with some criticising this announcement as a rebranding of funding announced in October.Louise Haigh, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, said:“The Tories have failed and local people are sick and tired of this Government taking them for fools.“Only the Conservatives could have the brass neck to promise yet another ‘transformation’ of transport infrastructure in the midlands and north after fourteen years of countless broken promises to do just that.“The Conservative record speaks for itself – record delays and cancellations on the rail network, 22 million more potholes, and a record-breaking collapse in bus routes.“Labour will reform our broken public transport system giving every community the power to demand London-style services, by taking back control over buses and bring our railways back into public ownership as contracts expire. And we will work with mayors and local leaders to deliver a credible and transformative programme of rail and transport infrastructure investment.”

Have you heard our new podcast Talking Politics? Every week Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…