Transport minister Norman Baker has told engineers in the East Midlands that light rail is energy efficient, cheap, flexible and popular.
Baker was speaking at an ICE East Midlands event in the week government gave the go-ahead to Nottingham’s tram extension.
He praised Nottingham City Council and the tram consortium for the project’s efficiency in light of a 25 % reduction in Government funding. Speaking to an audience of transportation professionals Baker outlined the Government’s proposals for a sustainable transport infrastructure aimed at creating growth and cutting carbon.
He also confirmed the government’s commitment to heavy rail, outlining the benefits to the region of High Speed Two and saying that in the longer term, electrification of the Midland Main Line was still a possibility.
Baker said the government’s commitment to devolving power to local authorities was aimed at producing cost-effective, energy efficient transport solutions that benefit local residents, with 26 funding streams reduced to four and £10M available for Community Transport schemes.
Local transport was given a moderate boost in the Budget with £200M announced for regional rail schemes and an extra £100M for local authorities to deal with the impact of the severe winter on local roads, adding to the £100m announced in February.
Representatives from Derbyshire County Council, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, Leicestershire County Council, Nottingham City Council, and Halcrow also addressed the conference, discussing ways forward following the closure of the regional development agency, emda, and the Government Office East Midlands. Plans for Local Enterprise Partnerships and sub-regional groups to take on some of this work at a more local level were outlined.