East West Rail will be “funded as promised”, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirmed in the Autumn Statement.
East West Rail, a new line from Oxford to Cambridge expected to cost around £5 billion, is already underway, but there were question marks over whether the Bedford to Cambridge section would proceed as planned amid heated debate over the route.
Mr Hunt told the House of Commons: “When looking for cuts, capital is sometimes seen as an easy option. But doing so limits not our budgets, but our future, so today I can announce that I’m not cutting a penny from our capital budgets in the next two years and maintaining them at that level, in cash terms, for the following three years.
“That means, that although we’re not growing our capital budget as planned, it will still increase from £63bn four years ago to £114 billion next year, £115 billion the year after and remain at that level – more than double what it was under the last Labour government.
“Smart countries build on their long-term commitments, rather than discard them.
“So today I confirm that because of this decision, alongside Sizewell C, we will deliver the Core Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 to Manchester and East West Rail and the new hospitals programme, and gigabit broadband rollout.
“All these and more will be funded as promised with over £600bn of investment over the next five years to connect our country and grow our economy.”
Former transport secretary Grant Shapps had said in July that he would scrap the remaining sections of East West Rail to save money.
Labour’s Rachel Reeves said: “ordinary working people were paying the price” for the Tories’ mismanagement of the economy.
She compared the government to pickpockets, saying: “In the last hour, the Conservatives have picked the pockets of purses and wallets of the entire country, as the chancellor has deployed a raft of stealth taxes taking billions of pounds from working people.”
Image source: East West Rail
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