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Midlands Connect responds to Chancellor's Spring Statement

Published: Wednesday 03 March 2019

Midlands Connect responds to Chancellor's Spring Statement

The Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced a consultation on supporting private infrastructure investment, and confirmed the Spending Review will conclude in the autumn.

Commenting on the Spending Review confirmation, Midlands Connect Director Maria Machancoses said:

It is vitally important that the Spending Review and associated updated national infrastructure strategy recognises the crucial role the Midlands has in growing the UK economy. Midlands Connect has spent the last four years researching, developing and recommending clear priorities for infrastructure investment, whether that’s our flagship Midlands Rail Hub project to transform rail capacity, our economic corridor approach to improvements on the A46 trade route, or fighting for the completion of HS2 Phase Two in its entirety.

“Our strategy recommends the right projects for the Midlands, at the right time and for the right reasons, and it is important that the government listens to us, defining a clear role for Sub-national Transport Bodies in the development of an investment plan that prioritises rebalancing the economy.

“We will continue to work with government in the run up to the Spending Review to submit funding proposals for cost-effective but ambitious plans for transformational infrastructure investment in the Midlands, to future-proof access to jobs and supply chains. This includes our Midlands Rail Hub proposals to add 24 passenger trains an hour to the region’s network, and 36 additional freight paths a day, shifting the equivalent of 4,300 lorries from road to rail.

“It is time to turn the evidence we’ve spent four years developing in to transformational investment that delivers real economic and social benefits to the 10 million people living, working and studying in the Midlands, and for the whole country.”

Commenting on the consultation on supporting private infrastructure investment, Maria Machancoses, said:

“It’s right that Government is looking at new ways to fund infrastructure development, but let’s be clear, public and private sector investment must go hand in hand. Private investors such as pension funds seek the certainty of a long-term project pipeline, so it’s essential that Treasury continues to support large-scale transport projects such as Phase Two of HS2 and our own Midlands Rail Hub.

“While private sector investment in areas such as rolling stock is on the rise, we need to be realistic about what this funding stream is likely to support. Historically, private investment has delivered very little in terms of physical rail infrastructure, less than one per cent of our tracks and rail lines are funded this way. However, it has played an important role in the development of surrounding infrastructure, our train stations, office blocks and retail facilities, for example at Kings Cross and Reading stations.

“Private investment, while vitally important, comes at a cost, whether it be a share of operating profits, property rents or loan repayments. This cost must not compromise the financial sustainability of schemes or the quality of passenger services.

“We ask that Government carefully considers the input of Sub-national Transport Bodies in its consultation, particularly in advising how regionally-significant infrastructure projects should be funded.”