Transport in the PBR
Today’s PBR gave some positive signals on transport, with a distinctly green hue. Unfortunately there wasn’t much detail, nor much new money, though there was a welcome financial boost for electric vehicles.
On rail, there was a renewed expression of commitment to the£1.1bn electrification programme announced in the summer, with a promise of further announcements to come. One of the priorities that we’re still awaiting a decision on is whether the London to Sheffield Midland Mainline will be electrified. There was also a promise to respond to High Speed Two’s report on options for a high speed rail line to the West Midlands and Scotland early in 2010 – this is expected to come in the form of a white paper and so the PBR couldn’t be expected to give much more away. But 2010 is set to be a significant year for rail policy.
Most of the new money seems to be aimed at electric vehicles, with a £30 million boost primarily for measures to encourage the development of ultra-low carbon vehicle technology and the take-up of electric vehicles. There were also some green tax breaks, with an exemption of electric vehicles from company car and van taxes for the next five years to encourage companies to build up green fleets.
The work of Infrastructure UK, which Philip also mentions in his post, will be important for future transport decisions. The new body, first announced as part of the Building Britain’s Future package earlier this year, will set out a plan in 2010 for the UK’s infrastructure over the next 5 to 50 years. This body will be tasked with working on major projects such as high speed rail, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on the role PPP and PFI play in any proposals, given that they seem to be given a heavy emphasis in the PBR outline (page 65).