Up until now, supporters of HS2 have tended to be unconcerned about effects of HS2 on Department for Transport spending on local transport, claiming that it comes from a different pot of money to other transport budgets. Where this view falls down is that the money for HS2 and the money for the rest of the DfT budget comes from the same large pot of taxpayers money.
Last week, transport groups wrote to Patrick McLoughlin with concerns that spending on what they describe as ‘everyday transport’ – local roads and pavements, bus services, cycling and walking – is at risk of massive spending cuts, while major investment programmes are ringfenced. The groups involved include Sustrans, CPRE, pteg, and the Campaign for Better Transport. The letter explicitly mentions HS2.
They noted that the DfT has been asked to look for economies of between 25 and 40%, and warn that this might mean that the “Government transport spending will become entirely focused on major capital projects, and that all other transport programmes will be subject to very deep cuts”.
They say that “funding for everyday transport – local roads and railways, local bus services and local programmes to support cycling and walking – will be severely hit and may in some cases cease altogether. ”
They are concerned with maintenance, noting that poor roads can lead to damage to vehicles, as well as injuries, and that local bus and rail services are vital to people who are without cars, as well as reducing congestion and improving air quality.
The letter finishes with a warning that
“The risk is that major eyecatching projects, which carry short term political kudos but have major costs and risks in delivery, will take precedence over the multitude of smaller local transport projects and programmes that together bring much larger overall benefits for everyone in the country.”