‘For years transport investment in the North of England was neglected,’ says Osborne, as he gives backing for £130m project to improve rail links.

The government will support Network Rail to invest a further £130m in the Northern Hub rail scheme, chancellor George Osborne announced in his budget this week.

Addressing parliament, Osborne said that “for years transport investment in the North of England was neglected”, but said that this was no longer the case. The Northern Hub project will improve rail links between Manchester and Sheffield, Rochdale, Halifax, Bradford, Bolton, Preston and Blackpool. It builds on previously announced investments to electrify the TransPennine route from Manchester to York and build the Ordsall Chord between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations.

Responding to the news, Network Rail chief executive David Higgins said: “This project will be a clear demonstration of how investment in smart infrastructure can unlock economic potential.”

Osborne also announced that the government will work with the rail industry and Transport for London to consider further investments to improve rail journeys into and within London, including longer trains and new capacity at stations. Details will be announced in summer 2012.

The government will also work with the Welsh Government to consider electrification of the Welsh Valley lines, subject to value for money and an agreement on financing. A final decision will be announced in summer 2012.

It was an uneventful budget for the bus industry. There is no change to the existing plans for fuel duty, which will rise by 3p per litre in August. There was no increase in Vehicle Excise Duty for buses and coaches.

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