New transport infrastructure projects unveiled

The chancellor announces a series of road, rail and broadband schemes across the UK

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has unveiled £5bn of investment spending by 2015, including £1bn on roads upgrades.

Four road projects announced in his Autumn Statement included conversion of the remaining A1 dual carriageway from Leeds to Newcastle into a motorway.

There will also be upgrades to the M25 and to the A30 in Cornwall, as well as a new link between the A5 and M1.

The chancellor also said the Treasury would provide a £1bn loan and guarantee for London's Northern Line extension.

Bottlenecks and resurfacing

The total £5bn in additional capital spending also includes spending on new schools, flood defences and high-speed broadband.

Despite the increased investments, the Department for Transport is also expected to make £139m in annual spending cuts by 2015.

Mr Osborne said the government was also providing £40bn in guarantees for infrastructure, of which £10bn has already been approved, and £10bn in guarantees for housing projects.

Autumn Statement Documents

PDF download Autumn Statement 2012[2,800 k]

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He repeated his intention to replace "private finance initiative" (PFI) projects - the scheme for involving private-sector contractors in public sector infrastructure projects first introduced under John Major - with a new approach that would enable taxpayers to benefit from the profits of such ventures.

The Treasury gave further details of the planned spending on roads:

  • £333m for road resurfacing and maintenance, to be split between the Highways Agency (which is responsible for trunk roads) and local authorities
  • £270m for alleviating bottlenecks, such as sudden road narrowings or awkward junctions, of which £170m will be for local roads
  • £314m to reinstate a previously scrapped plan to upgrade the A1 between Leeming and Barton to a three-lane motorway, providing a complete motorway link from Newcastle to Leeds; the new plan aims to be complete by 2017
  • £150m to be spent after 2015 on improving the M25/A13 interchange in order to facilitate freight traffic coming from additional port capacity being built on the Thames estuary; the chancellor did not give and new details of the planned upgrade and tolling of the A14, which is designed to address the same problem
  • £137m on national road projects, including the acceleration of planned junction improvements on the M3, M6 and M1
  • £127m to build a new two-lane dual carriageway linking the A5 and M1 north of Dunstable and Houghton Regis
  • £30m to turn the A30 between Temple and Higher Carblake in Cornwall into dual carriageway by 2016
  • £42m on cycle infrastructure
'Confidence boost'

Transport for London confirmed to the BBC that it would receive the loan for the extension on London Underground's Northern Line and run the project.

The work will extend the West End branch of the Northern Line from Kennington to Battersea power station.

However, the project will not go ahead until the current private-sector owners of the derelict power station and the neighbouring Nine Elms site are themselves ready to go ahead with a massive redevelopment of the site, which is expected to create 16,000 new homes and provide a new location for the US embassy.

TfL said it hoped to submit a formal proposal for the upgrade in the New Year.

Infrastructure and investment

Motorway traffic

London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, said the tube extension would provide "an incredible confidence boost for developers preparing to invest" in the Nine Elms redevelopment.

Meanwhile, the chancellor had mildly disappointing news on a far bigger rail scheme.

Details of the route to be taken by the UK planned new high speed rail north of Birmingham to the North West and West Yorkshire - which had been expected before Christmas - will not now be unveiled until the New Year.

The first phase of the £33bn high speed route, linking London and Heathrow to Birmingham, has been announced previously, with construction planned for 2017-24.

The government also separately announced in July plans to spend £9bn on electrification of the Great Western Main Line - first unveiled under the previous government - and of mainline rail routes in the North.

Besides the spending on transport infrastructure, the chancellor also announced in his Autumn Statement:

  • "funding and reforms" to assist the construction of up to 120,000 new homes
  • support for flood defences
  • ultra-fast broadband for 12 cities
  • £600m in additional funding for scientific research
  • £270m for improvements to further education colleges
  • £1bn for schools expansion and for the construction of 100 new free schools and academies
  • approval for the construction of 30 new gas-fired power stations

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