Grayling puts £2m into South East transport

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced a £2 million funding boost for regional transport organisations in the South East of England to improve journeys for goods and passengers.

Two organisations will receive the money: England's Economic Heartland and Transport for the South East. 

England's Economic Heartland is a partnership of councils and local enterprise partnerships, covering the area from Oxfordshire through Milton Keynes and across Cambridgeshire. Transport for the South East brings together 16 transport authorities and 5 local enterprise partnerships. It states it will "unlock the potential for continuing growth where lack of transport infrastructure has been a barrier to sustainable development, including for housing and more world-class businesses."

Area covered by Transport South East

Area covered by Transport South East

These groups are two of four emerging Sub-National Transport Bodies (STB). The other two, which won't share this funding, are Transport for the North and Midlands Connect. The Department of Transport's Transport Investment Strategy, published in July 2017, states that STBs will be involved in infrastructure decision making. 

England's first STB, Transport for the North, became a statutory body on 1 April 2018. 

While the idea of the government's transport investment decisions being influenced at a more regional level is a good one, the underlying message is that improving journey times is not primarily for the benefit of existing users. The idea seems to be to boost "housing development and economic growth."

It looks like the government will just add to the problem of too many people in the relatively prosperous South East.  With house prices amongst the highest in the country, it seems unlikely that developments will resolve the issue of affordability. Creating jobs will be essential but will these bring more people into the area looking for housing and needing transport? The cycle continues. 

Transport for the South East says the area needs strategic investment because it adds £200 billion a year to the UK economy - more than Scotland and Wales combined. It points out that the South East region takes in the country’s two biggest airports, many of its busiest motorways, a string of major ports and crucial railway links to London, the rest of Britain and to mainland Europe. 

England's Economic Heartland is all about growth so it is no surprise that, in addition to wanting Heathrow expansion, it wants the final National Policy Statement to provide for the continued expansion of Luton airport too!