Commenting on the announcement by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister today, that there will be an extra £9.4bn investment into the rail industry, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“Investment in our rail infrastructure is important to British business. So these announcements are welcome, if in many cases long overdue. “Yet we should be under no illusions. The announcement of a widely-expected programme of rail investment, starting in two years’ time, is not enough. Britain needs a radical and properly funded infrastructure strategy that delivers both short-term jobs and long-term competitiveness. That means clarity on high-speed rail, our road network, aviation, energy supply and digital connectivity – and it should be achievable without adding to the structural deficit.”
On the specific measures included:
“We have long campaigned for capacity enhancements to the railway network, especially in places where businesses report serious problems. Confirmation of additional funding to upgrade the ‘Northern Hub’ around Manchester and the upgrade of the East Coast Mainline respond directly to the list of business transport priorities put to the Coalition when it took office in 2010.  We also welcome the commitment to widespread electrification of existing lines, which will help to secure better links to a number of regions where reliability has been a key concern.”
On the funding package:
“With less than half of the £9.4bn headline figure being spent on new projects, we need to keep things in perspective. In many cases, the government is only making good on earlier promises. Given current economic conditions, it is critical to ensure that this investment happens as early as possible in the 2014-2019 timeframe – in order to assist economic recovery.”