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South loses out in battle for transport funds

News

SOUTHERN ENGLAND last week emerged as the loser in the race to win a slice of the government's Transport Innovation fund.

Of 12 schemes shortlisted to receive the cash only one was in the south.

Projects to relieve a major rail bottleneck at Reading station and to develop the Airtrack rail link to Heathrow airport from the south are now without funds.

South East Regional Assembly planning implementation manager Martin Tugwell expressed disappointment at the news.

We put forward three schemes which seemed to be very much in tune with the objectives of improving national and inter-regional productivity and could be delivered in the suggested timescales, ' he said.

'So our reaction is one of disappointment, ' said Tugwell.

Proposals that the fund should part finance major schemes such as the A303 Stonehenge tunnel, A3 Hindhead tunnel and A46 Newark also failed to make the grade.

Full business cases for all shortlisted schemes will now be worked up by the end of July and a decision on which schemes will receive funding is expected by the end of the year.

Transport secretary Douglas Alexander said that the fund could be used to make a contribution towards the cost of London's £10bn Crossrail scheme.

But he stressed that funding decisions on the rail link will not be taken until after Sir Michael Lyons' review of local government nances.

To read the shortlist go to www. nceplus. co. uk

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