Spending on rail infrastructure in the north is set to overtake the south in the next three years according to rail minister Jo Johnson.
Speaking at a Transport Committee meeting on rail infrastructure investment, Johnson defended criticism that there was a disparity in government investment for rail infrastructure in the north compared to the larger amount in the south.
The minister said according to an analysis carried out by the Infrastructure Projects Authority (IPA), spending in the north west of the UK would top the list, spending £10 per head more than in the south over the next three years.
“According to the IPA, central government numbers are more balanced than you suggest,” he said. “The north west is expected to get the most spend per head between 2017/2018 and 2020/2021.”
However, Transport Select Committee chair Lilian Greenwood said this did not address the past and current spending gap, quoting figures from the Treasury’s country and regional analysis.
“In the last year the total transport [in London] spend was £973 per head of which £746 was on railways,” she said. “This is compared to say the south west £277 per head with £94 per head on railways. London is way ahead including the north west which had £203 per head on the railway.”
The government has recently released a “rebalancing toolkit” which it said would help regions around the country. Johnson said the kit would help to “flush out factors which aren’t captured in a classic case, in the benefit cost ratio (BCR) in particular”.
When questioned on where the toolkit had been used and added benefit, Johnson said it was too early to say.
“I think it’s relatively early days for the toolkit and it is in the process of being developed and made available to investors,” he said. “It’s too early to give examples.”
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