Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he has taken to improve transport links in the Thames Valley.
Mr Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport): The Government launched the Roads Investment Strategy on 1 December. The M4 Junction 3-12 smart motorway project to upgrade the M4 between Reading and Heathrow continues to be progressed. This month the Highways Agency is conducting a public consultation on the proposals, including exhibitions at 11 locations in the Thames Valley.
Construction of Crossrail is now more than half completed and electrification of the Great Western Main Line is also under way. Electrification of the Thames Valley branch lines, including the Slough to Windsor line, is approved and will improve local connectivity.
The transformation of Reading station was completed on time and under budget as part of the £850 million Reading Station Area Redevelopment programme and formally opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 17 July.
The programme to increase passenger capacity on the Reading and Windsor to Waterloo railway by 25% is now under way and will be completed in early 2015. 60 additional carriages are being incorporated into an extended and refurbished fleet of trains to operate as a maximum 10 carriage train length.
In July the Government announced £94.6m to support local transport projects across Berkshire as part of the Growth Deal with the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, in addition to the £36.9m integrated transport block funding announced in March for the six Berkshire local authorities, covering the period 2015/16 to 2020/21.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent steps he has taken to improve transport connections between Windsor and Reading.
Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Transport): On 27 March, the Government and Transport for London announced that Crossrail services will be extended to serve Reading from 2019. Once Crossrail services begin across the whole line in 2019, passengers travelling to London from Windsor, Reading and other Thames Valley stations will be able to travel to more destinations across London without the need to change at Paddington. Construction of Crossrail is now more than half completed and electrification of the Great Western Main Line is also under way. Electrification of the Slough to Windsor route is approved and will improve local connectivity.
The transformation of Reading station was completed on time and under budget as part of the £850 million Reading Station Area Redevelopment programme and formally opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 17 July.
The Government continues to progress the M4 Junction 3–12 smart motorway project, the next step for which is formal public consultation in the autumn. The Highways Agency is also taking forward a £2.5 million pinch point scheme to increase capacity at the M4/A329 (M) junction.
On 7 July the Government agreed the £96.9 million Growth Deal with the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership. This includes £94.6 million to support local transport improvements across the whole of Berkshire, including in and between Windsor and Reading.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent steps he has taken to reduce congestion (a) in Windsor constituency and (b) around Heathrow Airport.
Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport): Transport investment is central to the Government’s long term economic plan. On 7 July we announced £3 billion of funding for new local transport schemes within the Local Growth Fund. This included £96.9 million for the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (which includes Windsor).
Of this, £94.6 million will support transport schemes that have been bid for by the LEP and will make a real difference to transport accessibility in the whole of the Thames Valley. These include provisional funding from 2016-17 onwards of £4.75 million for a sustainable transport package across the Thames Valley LEP area.
Local transport in the Windsor and Maidenhead area has, since 2010, also benefited from investment that will reduce congestion in the area. This includes just over £2 million of Local Pinch Point Funding, £16.1 million investment in improving the state of the roads and on small scale transport schemes and around £2 million from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund to ease congestion by promoting travel behaviour change through a package of sustainable travel measures aimed at residents, schools and businesses.
In addition to investment in the local network the Government continues to progress the M4 smart motorway. A further formal public consultation on the scheme will be held in the autumn and subject to development consent and the final business case, construction could start in late Summer 2016. As well as this the Highways Agency is taking forward a £2.5 million scheme to improve the links between the M4 and A329(M), to provide increased capacity at the junction and improve traffic flows. The scheme will be delivered by the end of March 2015.
The Government is also investing around £500 million in Western Rail Access to Heathrow subject to a satisfactory business case and agreement of acceptable terms with the Heathrow aviation industry. This will facilitate direct rail services between destinations in the Thames Valley and Heathrow airport.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the capacity of platform facilities at Heathrow airport to accommodate both Crossrail and Airtrack services.
Derek Twigg (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport; Halton, Labour): On Second Reading of the Crossrail Bill, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport described the ongoing discussions between the Government and BAA about access to Heathrow for Crossrail. The current intention is that Crossrail will serve terminals 1–4 and will therefore not affect the development of services to terminal 5 such as the Airtrack scheme. We will continue to discuss these matters with BAA as the Airtrack proposals progress.