The Infrastructure Plan 2014 (NIP 14) was published on 2 December 2014, as part of the Build up to the chancellor's Autumn Statement.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr Danny Alexander), in a Written Statement to Parliament (endnote 1) outlined the Government’s commitment to infrastructure in the build up to the last Budget for this Parliament, due in March 2015.

A summary of the new announcements in the NIP 14 in the infrastructure sectors is set out below.

ROADS

The government is publishing the first-ever Road Investment Strategy (RIS1) spanning 2015-16 to 2019‑20, to set out the national priorities and plans for our Strategic Road Network (SRN). It is replacing the Highways Agency with a new strategic highways company and monitoring arrangements.

RIS1 includes a £15bn commitment between 2015-16 and 2020-21 to continue the transformation of the Strategic Road Network (SRN), including substantial projects to upgrade the A303 in the South West, A1 in Gateshead and north of Newcastle, A47 in the East of England, and the A27 along the south coast:

  • £2bn of improvements to the A303/A30/A358 corridor, transforming connectivity to the South West with a new expressway, including a tunnel of at least 1.8 miles at Stonehenge.
  • £640m to further improve the A1 to the west and north of Newcastle, with a particular focus on tackling congestion by further widening sections of the Western-Bypass and dualling north to Ellingham.
  • £350m to upgrade the A47 in the East of England, including continuous dual carriageway around Norwich.
  • £350m to upgrade the A27 on the south coast, including a dual carriageway bypass for Arundel.
  • £170m to improve connections on trans-Pennine roads including improvements to the A61 and A628.
  • £1.5bn of investment in the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon which improves freight access to Felixstowe, one of the country’s major shipping ports, tackling the congestion in the East of England and unlocking a major housing development at Northstowe.

RIS1 will also establish 5 designated funds worth £900m to address a range of specific issues over and above the traditional focus of road investment and ensure the new Strategic Highways Company is at the cutting edge of innovation in road construction and network management. The funds are: Environment, Cycling, Safety and Integration, Innovation, Air Quality, and Growth & Housing.

In addition NIP 14 provides:

  • Support for ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs): up to £50m by 2020 to support innovation in manufacturing of ultra-low emission vehicles in the UK, based on a government contribution of £25m for which it will seek match-funding from industry. This includes a £32m fund for charging infrastructure.
  • The Roads Investment Strategy will set aside a further £15m between 2015-16 and 2020-21 for a national network of chargepoints for ULEVs on the SRN which will ensure access to a chargepoint every 20 miles on 95% of the SRN.
  • The government is also providing £10m support for ULEV measures in London, as well as further detail of three funds totalling £85m in support of the ambition to introduce an Ultra-Low Emission Zone by 2025.

RAIL

NIP 14 confirms that the Government plans to lay the National Networks National Policy Statement before Parliament in December 2014 for consideration and a formal vote. The Government’s objectives for the rail network are to: increase rail capacity, particularly into major cities, reduce journey times, strengthen connectivity and improve reliability, safety and the passenger experience.

To support delivery of its objectives for the rail sector, the government has included the following within its Top 40 priority infrastructure investments: Intercity Express Programme, European Rail Traffic Management System, High Speed 2 (HS2), Strategic Freight, Crossrail, Thameslink, Rail Investment Strategy route programmes and Major Stations.

NIP 14 announcements in the rail sector include:

  • Norwich in Ninety: support for the key recommendations of the Great Eastern Main Line Task Force, including upgraded infrastructure and the latest Rolling Stock. Bidders for the next Anglia Franchise, which will start in October 2016.
  • East West Rail: government to consider the outputs of the Network Rail study into the East West Rail central section (Bedford to Cambridge) as part of the planning for Control Period 6 (2019-2024).
  • Dawlish rail services: support for Network Rail in its work to improve the resilience of the railway at Dawlish. Additionally, it will ask Network Rail to examine wider issues surrounding connectivity to and within the South West peninsula and specifically an alternative route via the north side of Dartmoor through Okehampton. This work will feed into Network Rail’s Initial Industry Plan for Control Period 6 (2019-2024).
  • Chesterton Rail Station: £44m between 2014-15 and 2016-17 to build a new rail station at Chesterton, linked to Cambridge Science Park.
  • Access for all: increased funding for the Access for All scheme by £60m between 2015-16 and 2018-19, improving platform access at around 20 stations.

Next 5 years

Over the next 5 years the Government is committed to overseeing £38bn of expenditure by Network Rail in Control Period 5 (2014 – 2019) including the following enhancement projects:

  • the start of a major electrification programme including key routes such as the Great Western Line, Trans-Pennine and Midland Main Line
  • redevelopment of key stations in Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester
  • capacity improvements at key routes such as the South West and through the Northern Hub
  • beginning implementation of the European Rail Traffic Management System to improve line capacity
  • further development of the Strategic Rail Freight Network.

In addition the government is committed to completion of the Thameslink upgrade programme, including the redevelopment of London Bridge station and a new direct interchange with Crossrail at Farringdon. Similarly it is committed to the provision of 3,400 new rail vehicles; including around 2,500 for 3 major projects; new trains for the Intercity Express Programme, Thameslink and Crossrail.

Longer term

Network Rail Control Period 6 will run from 2019 to 2024. It is likely that the initial industry plan will be released in Autumn 2016, with a view to a final determination by the ORR in 2018.

Phase 1 of HS2 is due to open in 2026, with Phase 2 currently scheduled to complete in 2033.

To improve connectivity in the Midlands and the North, Sir David Higgins, Chairman of HS2 Ltd has recommended that decision making on HS2 be integrated with Network Rail’s decision making for improvements to the existing network during control period 6.  The Secretary of State for Transport has commissioned HS2 Ltd and Network Rail to make recommendations before the government’s response to the Phase Two consultation. The government is also working on ways to accelerate delivery of the Phase 2 section to Crewe, pending a decision on the route in 2015.

The government will support the railway industry study, due to report in February 2015, which is considering the case for including electrification of the following eight routes in Control Period 6: Leeds – Harrogate – York, Selby – Hull, Sheffield – Leeds, Sheffield – Doncaster, East Coast Main Line – Middlesbrough, Sheffield – Manchester (including the Hope Valley Line), Warrington – Chester, Crewe – Chester.

The government has also given its backing to develop proposals for a new High Speed 3 rail connection for cities in the north. A new body called Transport for the North made up of the main northern city regions will work together with other authorities and stakeholders and allow the north to speak with one voice on the big decisions to benefit the region as a whole. Working with Transport for the North, the government will produce a comprehensive transport strategy for the region.  This will include options, costs and a delivery timetable for a HS3 east-west rail connection. An interim report will be produced in March 2015.

LOCAL TRANSPORT

NIP 14 announces that the government will be providing local authorities (in England) with £5.8bn to 2020 for maintenance of local highways.  Of this funding £4.7bn will be allocated according to a needs-based formula, with £580m to incentivise good asset management and efficiencies, and £575m reserved to a challenge fund for large one-off maintenance and renewal projects.  Funding from the needs-based formula, before including incentive and challenge funding, will indicatively be allocated regionally as follows: North East £270m, North West £630m, Yorkshire and the Humber £490m, East Midlands £540m, West Midlands £510m, East of England £640m, South East £780m, and South West £850m.

NIP 14 reports that the government has already agreed the first £6 billion of local projects through a wave of Growth Deals with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). This includes the complete allocation of £2 billion from the LGF for 2015-2016.  LGF projects are expected to be matched by local investments worth around twice the contribution from the government. Over 330 transport improvements will be supported including:

  • £44m for the Metrolink transport system in Manchester, which will include 12 new trams, as part of a £448m transport package in Greater Manchester including revamped stations and improved bus services
  • £23m for a new road crossing of the M4 linking Swindon to nearby Wichelstowe, including pening up a new site for thousands of homes
  • funding for Birmingham to help the city make the most of HS2, including improving connection to the Birmingham Curzon Street station
  • more than £600m for local sustainable transport schemes.

NIP 14 also makes the following local transport announcements:

  • Crossrail 2: £2m between 2014-15 and 2015-16 to support the development of a comprehensive joint business case by the Department for Transport and Transport for London, to complete ahead of the next Spending Review.
  • Cycle City Ambition grants: £114m between 2015-16 and 2017-18 to enable the continuation of the Cycle City Ambition scheme in the eight cities it already covers.
  • Clean Vehicle Technology Fund: up to £4m to extend the Clean Vehicle Technology fund in 2014-15 which funds road vehicle modification by Local Authorities in order to reduce air pollution.
  • Bath City Centre Congestion Relief: the government welcomes the strategy and will consider a business case that assesses the viability of proposals including a park and ride, as well as a park and rail service, located to the East of Bath.

AVIATION

Aviation in the UK is largely privately owned and managed, and the government believes that a competitive aviation market is the most effective way to meet the interests of air passengers and other users.

To support delivery of its objectives for the sector, the government has included Airport Infrastructure Improvements and Airport Connectivity within its Top 40 priority infrastructure investments.  A package of surface access measures is included in the NIP 14:

  • the new Roads Investment Strategy includes plans for a comprehensive upgrade of the M42 Junction 6 near Birmingham airport, allowing better movement of traffic on and off the A45, supporting access to the airport and preparing capacity for the new HS2 station
  • Western Rail Access to Heathrow, to provide a direct service from Reading, will commence enabling works in 2017, subject to feasibility
  • Network Rail is producing a feasibility study into options on Southern Rail Access to Heathrow, to report its findings in 2015
  • Network Rail is consulting on extending the scope of the East Anglian Mainline study to include access to Stansted and will report findings in 2015
  • Network Rail is looking at capacity on the Brighton Mainline as part of the Route Study for Sussex on which it is currently consulting

NIP 14 records that a number of other privately-owned airports are also expected to bring forth investments to improve capacity on a commercial basis.

The Airports Commission has now published its interim report and is currently consulting on its assessment of proposals for additional runway capacity at Gatwick and Heathrow airports. It is due to publish its final report in summer 2015 and its analysis will be used to inform government decisions in summer 2015 on future airport capacity in the South East which will include how powers for any new runway could be delivered.

PORTS

The ports sector consists of a mixture of company, trust and municipal ports, which operate independently of government, on commercial principles. NIP 14 sets out that the government believes that the best way to achieve its objectives is to facilitate a competitive and efficient port industry, is by allowing judgements about when and where new developments are proposed to be made on the basis of commercial factors.

Acknowledging that development of capacity will be driven largely by private investment the government believes its objectives for the sector will best be met by taking action to improve surface access to and from ports where appropriate and the Container Port Capacity and Ports Connectivity are included within its Top 40 priority infrastructure investments.

The pipeline of £1.2bn of planned investments from renewals to expansions between now and 2020 includes:

  • the Port of Felixstowe is on target to deliver a container handling capacity of 6 million TEUs a year by 2020 (and could deliver an additional 2 million TEUs4 in the Harwich Haven by 2030)
  • Green Port Hull is planned to be operational in early 2016. The start of production at the blade factory is scheduled to be in the middle of 2016 with full production levels reached from mid-2017 onwards
  • Dover Port redevelopment of the Western docks
  • a programme of capital investment by Associated British Ports across its portfolio.

The government will continue to support measures on surface access including the A503 development to improve access to the Port of Liverpool, the A63 (Castle-street) at Hull, the A14 serving Felixstowe, and various rail gauge clearance and path improvements.

NIP 14 notes that Infrastructure UK is working with Atlantic Gateway to facilitate the delivery of critical infrastructure projects in the North West.