MPs demand changes to transport funding to end historic London bias

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Ministers must radically change the way they decide which transport projects are funded to end the historic London bias which sees the North of England frequently miss out, MPs have said.

Members of the cross-party Commons Transport Committee believe the Department for Transport (DfT)’s insistence on using a strict ‘cost-benefit analysis’ to decide which new projects get the green light means that schemes in London - which has a higher density of people than anywhere else in the UK - is always more likely to win funding.

Appearing before the committee, Transport Minister Baroness Kramer claimed the Coalition has started to shift transport funds away from London. But MPs said her department’s basic approach means the capital will always be favoured due to the huge economic returns it can offer.

“If you want to redistribute economic benefit in this country and make it fairer, so you get more growth in the regions and less overheating in London, you are going to have to use different criteria,” said North West Labour MP Graham Stringer.

Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers, a Conservative added: “My constituency is in Hull and Humber. With the best will in the world it is not going to have the same economic offer.”

But Baroness Kramer pointed to a raft of new rail projects announced by the Coalition since the last election as proof that the London bias at the DfT is finally disappearing.

She said: “With electrification outside London, with HS2, I think there is a very different way of looking at transport funding if you look forward, rather than back.”