A bridge across London's north/south divide: Treasury gives £12bn Crossrail 2 project funds to get started

George Osborne and Danny Alexander put new London rail link at centre of multi-billion pound infrastructure plan

The Government is ready to announce the first steps towards building a new railway linking north and south London as part of a multi-billion pound increase in infrastructure spending.

Under plans to be set out by Treasury ministers, funds are expected to  be committed towards carrying out  initial scoping work on the £12bn Crossrail 2 project which would  connect south London with the new High Speed 2 network.

The promise of funding to start the project – which would run from Wimbledon in the South to Alexandra Palace in the North – would allow building work to begin following completion of the Crossrail 1 in 2018.

George Osborne and Danny Alexander are expected to announce big increases in Government capital infrastructure spending as part of  the Comprehensive Spending Review which, unusually, is to be split over  two days. Ministers have already  indicated the capital spending will rise by £3bn in 2015/16 and by £15bn over the next Parliament.

But Mr Osborne is expected to  raise this figure still further today and will announce plans to bring forward spending plans pencilled in for  later years in order to “offset” the  austerity caused by other Government spending cuts.

Then on Thursday, Mr Alexander will announce details of the new capital schemes which will go-ahead as a result of the increased spending. Road transport is likely to be a key focus of the Government’s plans.

The Chief Secretary will announce plans for a new £600m six-lane motorway bridge over the River Mersey between Runcorn and Widnes and a new relief road to reduce traffic on the M4 near Cardiff.

He will also give the go-ahead to a major upgrading of the A14. The road is the main east-west route connecting Felixstowe, Britain’s biggest container port, with the Midlands. Officials are considering building two new roads around Cambridge and  levying a toll on a resurfaced 18-mile section of the road.

Other projects that may be announced include an upgrade to the northern stretch of A1, which will for the first time provide a continuous motorway or dual carriage way link between London and Scotland along the east coast. Lanes may also be added to the A303 – known all too well to holidaymakers – which runs from Basingstoke through Somerset (past Stonehenge) to the south-west of England and to the A47, which runs through the Norfolk Broads.

Other areas likely to see increased capital spending will be house building and high-speed internet infrastructure. As part of this, ministers may remove the cap on councils’ borrowing power, so they can build more affordable homes, as well as bringing in “use it or lose it” planning permission for developers.

Councils are also expected to be allowed to bid for capital funding for infrastructure projects to boost local economies.

There is expected to be a “single pot” of money which will be available to schemes to promote regional growth as recommended in a report by Michael Heseltine last year. Lord Heseltine said the pot should be worth £49bn over four years.

But the most eye-catching initiative is likely to be the plans for a second London Crossrail project – which has long been a key ambition of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Earlier this month he argued that it was “critical” for money be made available so the project could begin in 2019.  Otherwise, he said, engineering expertise would be lost after the completion of Crossrail 1. “The question about Crossrail 2 is not whether it should happen, but how quickly we can get it moving,” he said.

Tonight the Treasury was  remaining tight lipped about the extent of the capital expenditure plans. But sources suggested Mr Osborne had accepted recommendations from the IMF that more needed to be done to boost the economy in the short term from large scale projects that would also boost economic growth and  help Britain remain competitive over the longer term.

Figures released earlier this week showed that infrastructure spending had fallen by 40 per cent on this time last year.

This is despite the Government’s National Infrastructure Plan launched three years ago with the aim of co-ordinating priority investment and included a £250bn shopping list of road, rail and energy projects. But industry has complained that high-profile announcements have obscured the difficulties of getting project “shovel ready” with long funding and  planning delays.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee