Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives have all pledged to invest billions of pounds in the UK’s transport infrastructure in their manifestos for the general election.
In December 2014, the Government committed to investing £15 billion in England’s strategic road network between 2015 and 2020.
Known as the Road Investment Strategy (RIS), a significant plank of the plan is to increase capacity on some of the busiest sections of motorway by converting them to smart motorways based on ‘all lane running’ where the hard shoulder is converted to a permanent running lane for traffic.
RIS 2, which is due to come into effect from 2021, was expected to be funded by ring-fencing Vehicle Excise Duty which currently generates approximately £6bn per year for the Treasury. This figure was also expected to increase further from 2020-21.
Conservatives say they will:
- Retain a target for almost all new cars and vans to be zero-emission by 2050, along with a commitment to invest £600 million by 2020 to help achieve it.
- Continue to develop the strategic road network, providing extra lanes on motorways and improving key routes, as well as fixing pinch points.
- Focus on creating extra capacity on the railways.
- Increase services on our main lines and commuter routes, and launch new services to places which are poorly served.
- Continue a programme of strategic national investments, including High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the expansion of Heathrow Airport.
Labour says it will:
- Position the UK at the forefront of the development, manufacture and use of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs).
- Retrofit thousands of diesel buses in areas with the most severe air quality problems to Euro 6 standards.
- Encourage and enable people to get out of their cars, for better health and a cleaner environment.
- Continue to upgrade the road network and improve bottlenecks.
- Urgently look at improving the A1 North, the Severn Bridge and the A30.
- Scrap the tolls on the Severn Bridge.
- Aim for zero deaths on UK roads and reintroduce road-safety targets.
- Bring private rail companies back into public ownership as their franchises expire.
- Complete the HS2 high-speed rail line from London through Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, and into Scotland.
Liberal Democrats want:
- To completely ban the sale of diesel cars and vans by 2025.
- To introduce a diesel scrappage scheme and extend ultra-low-emission zones to 10 more towns and cities.
- All private hire vehicles and diesel buses licensed to operate in urban areas to run on ultra-low-emission or zero-emission fuels within five years.
- To reform vehicle taxation to encourage sales of electric and low-emission vehicles and develop electric vehicle infrastructure, including universal charging points.
- To invest capital in major transport improvements and infrastructure.
- To shift more freight from road to rail.
- To deliver the Transport for the North strategy.
- To complete East West Rail, connecting Oxford and Cambridge.
- To pursue the electrification of the rail network, improve stations, reopen smaller stations, restore twin-track lines to major routes and proceed with HS2, HS3 and Crossrail 2, including development of a high-speed network stretching to Scotland.