Government told to act as transport funding gap continues to widen

A fierce - and frankly understandable - row has ignited today after research revealed a vast North-South disparity in transport funding.

  Chris Grayling

Chris Grayling

A report published by think tank IPPR North said that from the current financial year onwards Londoners will receive £4,155 per person in transport investment compared to just £844 per person for Yorkshire residents - the lowest level in the UK.

The average of the three Northern regions combined - including the North East and North West - is £1,600 or more than two-and-a-half times less per head of population than people living in the capital.   

  Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

The disclosure comes just days after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told a Commons Select Committee: "I don't expect to electrify whole of Trans-Pennine route."

And in the week when the Foreign Secretary claimed it would be a good use of public money to build a 22-mile long Boris Bridge to France as "it's crazy that two of the biggest economies in the world are connected by one railway line when they are only 20 miles apart." (Albeit a railway line which is much more reliable, rapid, efficient and with hugely greater capacity than the offering Leeds-Manchester travellers are forced to endure).    

The IPPR North report comments: “For the majority of road and rail users, there should be significant concern that...London will continue to receive the lion’s share of tax-payers’ money spent on transport and that these disparities will widen further as the Greater London Authority gets to keep business rate revenues which have historically been pooled, in part, to rebalance the economy.

“Unless and until central government makes significant new investments in transport priorities outside the capital and affords bodies like Transport for the North the same powers as those exercised by Transport for London, it will be impossible to repaint a different picture and we will continue to live in a nation which is dangerously unbalanced.”

The think tank's senior research fellow Luke Raikes added: “Despite the Transport Secretary’s recent statements, London is still set to receive almost three times more transport investment per person than the North. This is indefensible.

“The North has been underfunded in comparison to London for decades, and our figures demonstrate that ministers have failed to redress this imbalance.

“This failure will continue to hold back the North and the country until the Government acts.”

And so say all of us (Northerners).