The 2014 Budget Report contained a number of interesting comments for those who are interested in the development of new or reopened rail infrastructure. The biggest announcements were with regards to Barking Riverside and HS2.
The chancellor confirmed that there had been healthy discussions with regards to the extension of the London Overground to Barking Riverside and that further talks would continue. He also confirmed that work would continue to look at the Brent Cross regeneration scheme which could include a new railway station on the Thameslink line.
1.144 The government will work with the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority (GLA) to develop proposals for extending the Gospel Oak to Barking Line to Barking Riverside, and to ensure that any public investment unlocks the construction of up to 11,000 new homes. It will also work with the GLA and the London Borough of Barnet to look at proposals for the Brent Cross regeneration scheme, subject to value for money and affordability.
The Chancellor issued support to the proposals to develop HS2 as per David Higgins proposals and commissioned HS2 to look into them.
1.136 The government has made significant progress this year on the delivery of High Speed 2 (HS2), depositing a hybrid bill in Parliament, and appointing Sir David Higgins – former Chief
Executive of Network Rail and the Olympic Delivery Authority – as Executive Chairman of HS2 Ltd. Sir David Higgins recently set out his proposals to maximise and accelerate the benefits HS2 can offer. In response to this report, the government has commissioned HS2 Ltd to develop proposals for accelerating the project and opening the line to Crewe by 2027, 6 years earlier than planned, as well as exploring options for undertaking a substantial redevelopment of Euston station, one of the biggest undeveloped commercial opportunities in central London.
The Chancellor confirmed that the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning Regime Review would be published shortly. This could have a substantial impact on certain railway reopenings and new infrastructure projects and the planning process that they would need to follow. He also provided a finance update for the National Infrastructure Plan to provide further analysis for potential investors.
2.252 Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning Regime Review – The government is committed to making the planning system work for major infrastructure projects and will shortly publish the outcomes of its consultation on the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning Regime, including a series of measures to streamline and improve the process.
2.253 National Infrastructure Plan: finance update – Building on the success of the National Infrastructure Plan, the government today (19 March 2014) publishes further analysis of the extent and nature of the potential financing opportunities in UK infrastructure, providing greater clarity and transparency for investors.
The Chancellor confirmed £100m to be provided to Greater Cambridge to enhance infrastructure. Cambridge Science Park has just been approved and there are projects such as Reopening Soham station, and the line to Wisbech that could benefit directly and indirectly. The chancellor also confirmed that talks continued with Glasgow with regards to a City Deal. Infrastructure has been identified as one of the priorities.
1.150 The government will commit £100 million to Greater Cambridge until 2019-20 to support their ambitious transport and infrastructure proposals through a Gain Share mechanism. This agreement could be worth up to £500 million over 15 to 20 years, dependent on the economic impact of their investments and, in addition to Greater Cambridge’s own plans, could deliver over £1 billion of infrastructure investment in the Greater Cambridge area.
1.151 Following the announcement at Autumn Statement 2013, the government is in detailed discussion with Glasgow to develop a city deal that will drive employment and economic development across the city region. Glasgow has identified infrastructure, strengthening the local labour market, and support for business growth as priorities, and good progress is being made in determining how best the government can support Glasgow to take forward this ambitious plan.