Rishi Sunak is set to pump billions of pounds into transport to give metro mayors the power to improve key public transport links.
The Treasury said nearly £7 billion would be given to areas such as Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands for projects ranging from tram improvements to introducing London-style improvements in infrastructure, fares and services.
Liverpool is set to be offered £710 million in the Chancellor Sunak’s Budget next week and the money is earmarked to help fund Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s project to extend the Merseyrail network.
The city’s fleet of trains is currently being overhauled to include battery powered trains that will extend the reach of the network to as far as Wrexham - without the need to install expensive electrified lines.
State-of-the-art trains in Liverpool
The first of 53 new trains for the Liverpool City Region from manufacturer Stadler was revealed to the public last month.
The region is the first in the country to own its new trains. Co-designed in consultation with local people, the modern trains boast a wide range of customer-focused features and functions.
The new trains are a key part of Metro Mayor Rotheram’s plan for a London-style transport network that seeks to make it quick, easy and reliable for people to travel around the region by linking different modes of transport together.
The Ormskirk to Kirkby service will be the first line to get the new trains, as it is near to the maintenance depot and any issues would be easier to deal with.
Over the coming months, Stadler will hand more trains to the Combined Authority, ahead of introduction into passenger service.
Among the advantages of the new trains is a more than 50% increase in capacity, from just over 300 to more than 470 and a 10% reduction in journey times thanks to quicker acceleration and braking.
This historic transfer represents a significant milestone in the new trains project that will see the entire fleet replaced by state-of-the-art trains, set to bring the city region’s rail service into the 21st century.
Co-designed in consultation with local people, the modern trains boast a wide range of customer-focused features and functions including: Pioneering sliding step technology, providing step free access for all, On board Wi-Fi and digital passenger information screens.
£6.9 billion in funding for Metro Mayors
The announcement from the Government is being touted as a vote of confidence in the devolution agenda as all those awarded cash are areas with metro mayors.
There will be £710 million for the Liverpool City Region, £830 million given to West Yorkshire, £570 million in South Yorkshire, £1.05 billion in the West Midlands, £310 million in Tees Valley, £540 million in the West of England.
Some £5.7 billion will be transport settlements for the regions, while £1.2 billion of new funding will go towards transforming bus services to deliver London-style journey times, fares and number of services.
While the £1.2 billion of funding for buses is part of £3 billion that the Prime Minister committed to spending on a “bus revolution” in March.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport, which represents the bus and coach industry, said the fact that the full £3 billion had not been reached yet meant the Government’s “rhetoric is unfortunately not being matched by reality”.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will also receive additional funding through the Barnett formula.
Mr Sunak said: “Great cities need great transport and that is why we’re investing billions to improve connections in our city regions as we level up opportunities across the country.
“There is no reason why somebody working in the North and Midlands should have to wait several times longer for their bus or train to arrive in the morning compared to a commuter in the capital.
“This transport revolution will help redress that imbalance as we modernise our local transport networks so they are fit for our great cities and those people who live and work in them.”