Zombie roads revival as buses lose out

TAN welcomes Rishi Sunak’s promises [1] for long overdue investment in rail upgrades, including electrification in the north and north Wales. However, it questions how many of these schemes will actually get built and if they do they could be decades away. It is also not clear how these projects [2] will be taken forward and how they fit with already agreed long term plans for rail and road. These are not projects that can be delivered quickly as the construction industry won’t have the capacity.

Crucially, with the risk already rising that the UK Government will not meet its 2030 target under the Paris Agreement and its sixth Carbon Budget, the pledge to build 70 new road schemes is likely to make things worse.

Chris Todd, director of Transport Action Network said:

“Today’s announcement is a ploy to twist the headlines away from the fallout from cancelling HS2 in the north. The plan sounds good in theory, but still fails to address the urgent every day transport needs of millions. We need action from the Government now to reduce public transport costs, have safer roads and better services, not promises of jam tomorrow.

“The pledge to extend the £2 bus fare cap for a year is welcome but does nothing to bring back the many thousands of bus services lost over the past 13 years. While money was pledged for bus services in the North and the Midlands, there was nothing for the rest of the country. Without better bus services, the cap will be irrelevant for many people who won’t be able to access jobs and services and contribute to growing the economy.

“Our big concern is the pledge to build 70 new zombie roads. This will drive up traffic, congestion and carbon emissions. The Government was already pursuing a high risk strategy, making it unlikely to meet its international obligations and the 6th carbon budget. The facts have changed and as Rishi Sunak said in his speech: “the right thing to do when the facts change is to have the courage to change direction”. Yet here he is, proposing to carry on with business as usual, ignoring the facts, building more roads and making things worse in the long term. This is not the type of leadership we need in a climate emergency.”

– ENDS –

Notes to Editors

[1] Rishi Sunak’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester

[2] List of proposals for spending the money ‘saved’ by not building HS2


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