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Transport: North East

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 13 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps the Government plans to take to alleviate congestion on (a) roads and (b) railways in the North East. (244890)

We are investing significantly across the North East to improve transport and alleviate congestion. Total expenditure on transport in the North East has increased by 30 per cent. in the five years to 2007-08—from £481 million in 2002-03 to £623 million in 2007-08.

On the roads, local authorities take decisions on local measures and investment needed to alleviate congestion on their roads. In addition to this, North East schemes in the current regional funding allocation being progressed by the Highways Agency include the A69 Haydon bridge bypass, which is in construction and improvements to four A19 junctions through Tyneside. The Highways Agency is also looking at options for addressing congestion problems on the A1 Newcastle Gateshead and Western bypass, but any scheme is likely to be complex and take time to deliver, and must be developed in parallel with the Tyne and Wear authorities’ proposals for addressing local traffic problems. In addition we expect, subject to satisfactory business cases, to invest over £70 million over the next five years in major bus priority infrastructure schemes in Tyne and Wear, Tees Valley and Durham. These are aimed at attracting more people to public transport by improving the journey time and reliability of buses.

On rail, the Rail White Paper committed to introducing additional rail capacity to meet peak demand in the Northern cities, including Newcastle. The DfT Rolling Stock Plan published in January 2008 showed that around 42 additional carriages would be available for TransPennine Express and around 182 additional carriages for the Northern franchise. Both these franchises serve the North East. We will also be investing over £290 million on the renewal of the Tyne and Wear Metro system between 2010 and 2019.