Local public transport across England will receive a £4.2 billion investment if the Conservatives win the General Election, according to the party.
As part of the new and devolved Local Public Transport Fund, local leaders in eight mayoral or combined authority areas will have the final say over how the additional money is spent.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said local trains would be boosted in England’s biggest cities and the towns around them under the Tories’ plans.
The Local Public Transport Fund will give local leaders the “control and certainty of funding they need to invest,” the Conservatives say.
Mr Shapps said: “These plans will change the face of local transport in towns and cities across the country.
‘Disastrous failure to invest in public transport’
But, Labour’s Shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, has labelled the announcement as an attempt to cover up the Government’s disastrous and incompetent failure to invest in public transport.”
“Tory cuts have caused public transport fares to rise at twice the rate of wages and thousands of bus routes to be cut, worsening congestion on our roads as a result,” Mr McDonald said.
“You can’t trust the Tories to deliver on transport in your region. The North is set to receive £2,389 less per person than London on transport. The Tories have presided over an unbalanced and unequal economy.”
Under the Tory plans, £4.2 billion will be allocated to the new fund, with more to come from the Government’s former pledge of £100 billion for infrastructure investment in the new Parliament.
The eight combined authorities or joint transport committee areas due to benefit are the North East, Tees Valley, West Yorkshire, Sheffield City Region, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, the West Midlands and West of England.
Each area will also have obligations to raise further sums locally, with commercial developments suggested as an option.
West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester upgrades
Mr Shapps added: ”They will kick-start the transformation of services so they match those in London, ensuring more frequent and better services, more electrification, modern buses and trains and contactless smart-ticketing.
“While Labour has confirmed it will raid the budget to build roads, the Conservatives believe in raising funding, improving quality and delivering value for commuters across the UK.”
The investment is expected to help projects including: a new metro or light rail in West Yorkshire – including to Dewsbury, Pudsey and Spen Valley; extensions to the Metrolink tram system in Greater Manchester – including to Stockport and Bolton; upgrades to the Tyne & Wear Metro; and new heavy rail lines in the North East.
The Tories say the money is in addition to other new local transport funding streams, such as at least £500 million to reopen railway lines closed under the Beeching Report.
Under the Conservatives’ plans, local leaders will also be given significantly more control over existing local rail services, including fares, service patterns, rolling stock and stations.
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