UK rail, road and housing plans to receive budget boost

The UK government is poised to approve a string of major infrastructure projects, including rail links in London and the north of England, and establish a £1.2 billion fund for the construction of more than 300,000 homes.

UK road and rail crossing
The announcements will be formally made on Wednesday when Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne unveils his 2016 Budget in the House of Commons.He will confirm government backing for the HS3 high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds, and the Crossrail 2 project to connect Surrey and Hertfordshire via central London. He is also expected to announce a string of major improvements to the road network in northern England, including construction of a trans-Pennine tunnel between Manchester and Sheffield, and the fund to release 'brown field' sites for the construction of starter homes.The moves follow publication of a report from the government-appointed National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) calling for "immediate and very significant investment" in the transport infrastructure in the North of England. It said construction of HS3 and improve motorway capacity were key ingredients if the government planned to achieve its aim of creating a 'Northern Powerhouse'.Lord Adonis, chairman of the NIC, said, "If the North is to become a powerhouse it has to be better connected. Leeds and Manchester are just 40 miles apart but there is no quick and easy way to travel between the two."In rush hour, it can take more than two hours by car, by train it can be almost an hour. So we should kick-start HS3 across the Pennines and slash journey times to just 30 minutes. But we must not wait decades for change – journey times should be cut to 40 minutes by 2022."A transformed northern rail network should include high-speed connections to HS2 and the dramatic redevelopment of Manchester Piccadilly to deliver jobs and investment across the centre of the city."By road, major improvements should be brought forward to transform the M62 between Liverpool and Leeds, cutting journey times by up to 20 per cent and increasing capacity by a third, alongside the development of a major strategy to enhance the entire motorway network including access to Britain's third busiest airport – Manchester Airport."A better connected north will be better for jobs, better for families and better for Britain. The work should begin as quickly as possible."Mr Osborne described the infrastructure plan as representing the UK's largest investment in rail infrastructure since the Victorian era. He said in a statement, "With the difficulties we see in the global economy, we've got to make Britain fit for the future."Now is the time us to make the bold decisions and the big investments that will help us to lead the world in infrastructure, and create jobs, push up living standards and boost our productivity for the next generation. That's what my Budget this week sets out to do."

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