A Westminster Hall debate on an e-petition relating to funding for Transport for London [free transport for under-18s ] is scheduled for Monday 30 November 2020, from 6-7:30pm. Ellliot Colburn MP of the Petitions Committee, will open the debate.
Recent Parliamentary information on transport in Lancashire can be found via this link.
Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal
The Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal was approved in September 2013 and covers Lancashire, Preston and South Ribble local authorities. It is estimated that the deal will help create 20,000 jobs, including 5,000 in the Lancashire Enterprise Zone, support four new road schemes and enable the construction of 17,000 new houses.
Specifically on transport, it promised:
- A 10 -year Local Major Transport Allocation to be overseen by Transport for Lancashire, the local transport board which sits within the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
- A City Deal Infrastructure Delivery Programme to enable delivery of critical highway infrastructure and allow the full development of significant commercial development and housing schemes
- A new junction on the M55 (near Bartle) and a new Preston Western Distributor (PWD) road to link the A583/A584 to the motorway network via the new junction (estimated cost £109.5m).
- South Ribble Western Distributor (SRWD) road to double vehicle capacity between Preston City Centre and the motorway network, at the point at which the M65, M6 and M61 connect (estimated cost £52.5m).
- Broughton Congestion Relief road to provide critical relief to the A6, North East Preston and the M6 (estimated cost £23.9m).
- Completion of the Penwortham Bypass to improve access between local and motorway networks, reducing congestion in Preston City Centre. It will also define the route of the new bridge crossing of the River Ribble linking with the PWD (estimated cost £17.5m).
New River Ribble bridge crossing
The Lancashire Strategic Transport Prospectus, published in January 2016, states that the “County Council and partners have begun to investigate whether a new crossing could progress more quickly [than 2026] and how such a project might be funded”. The Lancashire Evening Post reported in February 2016 that the county council would need to undertake detailed studies to see if the scheme is feasible, then look at how much it might cost and how funding can be secured. Construction work would be unlikely to start before 2020.
Tarleton Green Lane Link
The Green Lane Link Road is a proposed new road connecting agricultural and horticultural businesses to the A565 to relieve problems in villages, particularly Tarleton, which currently suffer congestion due to HGVs passing through.
The county council said in December 2015 that a study into the potential road safety benefits of a new link had concluded that it would not significantly reduce casualties. This effectively removed any hope of bringing the scheme forward from its current 2019/20 timetable on road safety grounds.
- East-west link and electrification: There has been talk for several years of some sort of ‘high speed’ rail line across the Pennines. Whether this would be an actual ‘high speed rail’ line, like HS2, or an upgrade of the conventional track so it can operate at higher speeds, is not yet clear. There are currently plans to upgrade the route by electrifying it: trans-Pennine electrification was ‘paused’ last year and after being recommenced in September completion of the whole Manchester to Leeds and York corridor was put back from 2019 to 2022. There is no official estimate of the cost of the trans-Pennine electrification, though there is an initial funding commitment of £300 million and £92 million has been spent to date on contracts.
- New franchises; new trains: The two new Northern and TransPennine Express (TPE) franchises are due to begin in April. Together, they have agreed to deliver 500 new carriages, the removal of the outdated and unpopular Pacer trains, room for 40,000 extra passengers at the busiest times, and more than 2,000 extra services a week. Under the new Northern franchise Preston-Blackpool South will get a Sunday service all year round; Colne-Preston will get a full hourly Sunday service; and Accrington and Blackburn stations will become ‘Northern Connect stations’ and staffed from 6am to 10pm with WiFi and catering outlets.
- Northern electrification: Preston and Blackpool are scheduled to benefit from the so-called ‘north-west triangle’ electrification – Manchester Victoria to Preston is scheduled for completion by December 2016 and Preston to Blackpool by winter 2016/17.
- HS2 for Lancashire: In January 2016 the SofS was asked why there are no plans for any HS2 rail service north of Manchester. He said in reply that “the simple fact is that from day one I see HS2 serving areas wider than just those in which it is built. When we start the service from Birmingham, it will be possible to link with conventional rail routes, rather as high-speed trains currently run from St Pancras to Ashford and then beyond. I hope that the northern parts of the United Kingdom will be served by HS2 straightaway”. The Lancashire Strategic Transport Prospectus, sets out the LEP’s plans to modernise Preston Station, with the potential to create a total of 7,850 jobs and generate £324m over the coming decades. This is the first stage of its HS2 Growth Strategy. On current plans journey times between Preston and London would reduced from the current 128 minutes to 77 minutes by 2033 after Phase 2 of HS2 is built. Station modernisation is critical if the station is to accommodate classic-compatible HS2 trains.
This paper provides an overview of the current rail system, including how it is delivered and how it performed and was financed up until the spring of 2020 when the UK locked down in response to the global coronavirus pandemic. It explains the impact of the pandemic on services and funding and sets out reforms to rail passenger services (franchises) as a result of the pandemic. The final section discusses the Williams Rail Review, initiated in 2018 and yet to report publicly, setting out the emerging conclusions and key questions to be answered.