(Bloomberg) -- Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will pledge to deliver a local transport “revolution” when he delivers the U.K. budget next week, plowing billions of pounds into train, bus and tram networks as part of government plans to spread prosperity beyond London and the southeast.
City regions will get settlements totaling 5.7 billion pounds ($7.8 billion) to cover projects such as tram improvements in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Sheffield, the Treasury announced on Saturday. Another 1.2 billion pounds will boost bus services, delivering “London-style improvements in infrastructure, fares and services,” it said.
The largess is part of the government’s plan to “level up” opportunities by spending on amenities outside the capital. Politically, it’s also likely to help the ruling Conservatives retain the support of former Labour voters from so-called “Red Wall” seats in central and northern England who switched to the Tories at the 2019 general election.
“Great cities need great transport and that is why we’re investing billions to improve connections in our city regions,” Sunak said. “There is no reason why somebody working in the North and Midlands should have to wait several times longer for their bus or train to arrive in the morning compared to a commuter in the capital. This transport revolution will help redress that imbalance.”
Not all of the spending is new, with the money for buses counting toward the 3 billion pounds already pledged by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to improve bus services. “Places will be selected in the coming months to benefit from this investment,” the Treasury said.
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