Better transport is central to our ambition to level up and spread opportunity across the United Kingdom. That is why the Chancellor will be unveiling, alongside his Budget, the national infrastructure strategy, which will set out further details of our plan to increase capital investment to record levels and transform the UK’s infrastructure.
South of Preston, there is only a single crossing of the River Ribble and a single-track bridge crossing the River Douglas, creating massive choke points for the residents and workers of Lancashire. Will my right hon. Friend consider additional bridges at these crossing points, which are strategically important for the whole of Lancashire as well as South Ribble?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the importance of relieving congestion for improving day-to-day quality of life and driving economic growth. I am pleased that last year her constituency benefited from a £30 million investment to do just that. But there is always more we can do, and I would urge her to consider the Department for Transport’s pinch points fund.
Places such as Melton Mowbray in my constituency have very low unemployment thanks to a thriving food manufacturing sector and the business-friendly policies of this Government, but we need to see wages rise locally. What investment has my right hon. Friend’s Department made to make sure that local councils can provide the transport needed, particularly buses, so that people can get to work and revitalise our high streets?
I am delighted to hear about the economic growth that is happening in my hon. Friend’s constituency. I know that her local councils are a key part of driving that. I am pleased to say that the Government announced today a £5 billion package to support local transport infrastructure such as buses and cycleways, alongside our existing £3.6 billion towns fund, which 16 different places across the east midlands have benefited from.
Andy Street’s vision to revolutionise our transport networks in the west midlands, coupled with the continuation of the HS2 project, will hugely benefit my constituents in West Bromwich East, especially those in Great Barr. The vision that Andy set out only last week included the expansion of the West Midlands Metro system. Ahead of the Budget next month, will my right hon. Friend look at what further funding can be made available to level up our transport infrastructure in the west midlands?
My hon. Friend is right to highlight the importance of local intra-city transportation. Obviously the Prime Minister will be making a statement later about national infrastructure. We heard what Andy Street had to say. We are engaging with the Mayor on his exciting plans for intra-city transport and the expansion of the metro line in the west midlands area.
May I press the Chief Secretary on infrastructure funding for south Wales, and particularly our railways? I have been asking for three years for additional investment in station improvements, electrification and the level crossing issue in my constituency. If there is any additional funding for infrastructure, please do not forget Wales.
I am happy to tell the hon. Gentleman that this Government are committed to improving transport infrastructure across the United Kingdom. Obviously, some matters are devolved. Network Rail has a £48 billion plan for rail infrastructure. I would be happy to hear from him about the specific projects that he is interested in taking up with it.
Reports over the weekend that the Bradford city centre stop is to be dropped from the Northern Powerhouse Rail route are extremely concerning. Given the importance of NPR to any improved transport infrastructure, can the Minister confirm here today that the Government’s preferred route still includes Bradford?
I am a passionate believer in improving east-west connectivity across the north. I am pleased to say that I met the leader of Bradford Council just the other week. Bradford has an exciting future as one of the younger cities in the country. I believe that the plans that NPR has put forward include Bradford. We are happy to look at those. Transport for the North is actively engaging with local stakeholders on the various routes for improving connectivity between Manchester and Leeds, and that includes Bradford city centre.
What progress has been made on the feasibility study on a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland, as promised by the Prime Minister? More immediately, have there been any discussions with the Scottish Government on the upgrading of the A75—an important road link to Northern Ireland and important to the economic corridor in south-west Scotland?
The Prime Minister is passionate about improving connectivity across the United Kingdom. As my right hon. Friend the Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) will know, that is one particular project that the Prime Minister has expressed interest in and he can assume that we are busy at work fleshing out what it might look like.