- Department for Transport and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
- Part of:
- Further education and training, HS2: high speed rail, Road network and traffic, Rail network, Aviation and airports, and UK economic growth
- 17 September 2015
- Delivered on:
- (Original script, may differ from delivered version)
Transport investment is keeping London mobile and equipping the city for the challenges of the future.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
When the Secretary of State spoke at the London Chamber of Commerce transport dinner a year ago, he started his speech by welcoming the return of “ambition, optimism and belief” to London.
Today (15 September 2015), those words sound rather restrained.
Twelve months on, London is absolutely flourishing.
It’s not just the fastest growing city in the fastest growing country in the G7.
It’s also the beating heart of Britain’s economic recovery.
In the past 5 years, the number of businesses here has grown by almost 216,000.
Half a million jobs have been created here.
And with the help of people in this room we will create over half a million more in this Parliament.
According to a recent report by the Economist, London will be the second most competitive city in the world by 2025.
Just behind New York.
But that’s not good enough.
We are aiming higher than that.
The Chancellor recently outlined plans for London to outpace New York.
Growing the capital’s economy by £6.4 billion in real terms by 2030.
Pressure on infrastructure
We want every business in London to grow and succeed.
But I don’t need to tell you that growth brings its own challenges.
A pressure on services and housing.
And the need for a transport infrastructure that can support a large, mobile population.
In fact London’s current transport system, which handles around 24 million journeys taken every day, works remarkably well.
But when a city is growing this quickly, we can’t afford to stop investing and planning for the future.
That’s the mistake previous governments made.
Reducing investment didn’t save us money, but it did harm our competitiveness over the longer term.
That’s why — at a time of tight budgets — this one nation government is delivering record capital investment in transport.
And because the capital’s population is projected to increase by a million people over the next 15 years, we’re building a world class transport system for Londoners, with the resilience to meet the demands of the future.
Progress so far
Working in partnership with Boris, the unparalleled advocate for this great city, transport is so much better than it was a few years ago.
Better bus services.
And all the rail upgrades delivered for the 2012 Olympics.
Since 2010, we have made the largest investment in London’s transport infrastructure in a generation.
But even these substantial improvements will be dwarfed by what’s to come.
In just 2 years’ time, the first Crossrail services will be running.
This extraordinary project will carry the equivalent of Birmingham’s population every single day.
Or an Olympic athletics stadium every hour; some might say it was truly performance enhancing.
Either way it’s a 10% capacity hike to London’s entire rail network.
By 2018, we’ll have Thameslink trains travelling every 2 or 3 minutes through central London in each direction, dramatically boosting north-south connections.
Admittedly, the disruptions at London Bridge and on the Brighton main line have been disappointing.
But I know that Network Rail’s new boss, Sir Peter Hendy, who is with us tonight, is absolutely focused on minimising future disruptions and keeping passengers informed.
Then we’re introducing new inter-city trains on the East Coast line into King’s Cross and the Great Western line into Paddington.
And in 2017 we’ll start building HS2, nearly doubling the number of peak fast trains leaving Euston, and trebling the number of seats.
Now I know these schemes are familiar to you.
We’re so accustomed to hearing about them, sometimes we take them for granted.
But their combined impact will be truly transformational.
Relieving pressure on the rest of the network.
Improving passenger journeys.
And providing the capacity and connectivity that London needs to continue growing.
Take Farringdon, for example.
When the redeveloped station opens in 2018, it will be one of the busiest railway stations in Britain.
And among the most important transport hubs in London.
Handling 150,000 passengers a day.
But these schemes will also leave another positive legacy: of jobs, skills and apprenticeships.
A subject close to my heart.
Getting to meet the team building Crossrail has been truly inspiring.
Everyone is so proud to be part of the programme.
And that’s because it has brought together thousands of people from different backgrounds to work as one team.
Crossrail has also created 460 apprenticeships so far, and 10,000 people have enrolled in the Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy.
This is just part of a wider plan to develop a new generation of qualified engineering, surveying and construction talent.
For example, HS2 is expected to create almost 25,000 jobs during construction and over 3000 permanent jobs in operation.
And the 30,000-strong roads workforce will need to grow by a third.
So we’re investing in a new National Training Academy for Rail.
And the National College for High Speed Rail.
We must also confront the gender imbalance that blights today’s infrastructure sector.
Crossrail has shown the way forward — I’ve been particularly impressed by the number of women involved.
Gradually, as we invest in Crossrail, Thameslink, HS2, and a major roads strategy, we are starting to overhaul the image of transport and engineering and to attract more women to the industry.
Our approach must be one of equal partnership between government, industry, employers, and our training and educational institutions.
We’ve also committed £10 billion for new London transport improvements over this Parliament.
Which means a better London Underground, better roads and better buses.
The funding means TfL can order 200 more Routemasters this year with 800 new buses a year joining the fleet from 2016 onwards.
The Tube modernisation plan will continue.
Closing ticket offices and getting staff to help customers face to face is part of that plan and it’s proving popular.
It’s also time London had 24-hour tube services to reflect its 24-hour economy.
Just like New York, Chicago, Sydney and Berlin.
So I hope that the unions will now focus on delivering that objective.
The recent threat of further industrial action was completely unwarranted.
After the transition period, no drivers will have to work overnight.
No-one will have to work more hours.
And no-one will have to work more than 5 days a week.
TfL has also taken on more than 500 extra staff to help run the new service.
So let’s get on with the programme, with no further strikes.
The Trade Union Reform Bill, debated in the House this week, will help ensure that.
Meanwhile we’ve asked the Mayor to come forward with proposals for larger infrastructure projects like Crossrail 2 and the Bakerloo Line extension.
Let me reconfirm — we’re committed to pushing forward plans for Crossrail 2.
But — like any scheme — it must be affordable, and the business case must be sound.
As with Crossrail 1, we’ll be looking at a combination of funding sources so the burden does not fall solely on the public purse.
We expect to have more to say on these schemes and TfL’s future funding in the upcoming Spending Review.
Roads and aviation
Such is the importance of the Tube that sometimes London’s roads are overlooked.
But TfL’s £4 billion ‘Road modernisation plan’ is a major part of the strategy to keep London moving.
Compared with many other major capital cities, traffic on London’s roads flows pretty well.
And the modernisation plan will ensure that continues.
Encouraging more people to cycle is absolutely key.
Indeed, the Mayor is committing £913 million to increase the number of bike journeys to 1.5 million a day by 2026.
This is a visionary programme which includes new Cycle Superhighways running through central London and significant upgrades to the existing network.
Finally, I’d like to say a few words about aviation.
Last year more than 145 million people travelled through London airports – a record.
And progress continues to be made on improving the use of existing runway and terminal capacity.
We are currently considering the recommendations of the Airports Commission, the largest and most detailed study of hub aviation ever made in this country.
It’s a heavyweight report that deserves detailed study.
Whatever our decision, it will be taken in the best interests of the nation and will protect Britain’s position as a global transport hub.
So to sum up.
London today is a city on the move.
Just as the capital’s economy is moving emphatically in the right direction, so London transport is also being transformed.
By working together, government and all our partners.
Transport for London.
Crossrail, Thameslink, and HS2.
And London’s business community.
The work we are doing Is not just keeping London mobile.
It’s equipping the city for the challenges of the future.
To compete and win in the 21st century global economy.