• Region to benefit from more than £24.5m emergency active travel grant for new cycling and walking lanes
  • £2.6m funding to ramp up critical Sheffield Supertram services
  • Preferred route also announced for £1bn upgrade to major road link which runs across Northern Powerhouse, from Teesideto Cumbria

Communities in Yorkshire and the Humber will benefit from more than £27 million in funding to increase light rail services, regenerate local economies and make roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced.

Yorkshire and the Humber has been allocated a share of £225 million announced earlier this month, to create new and permanent cycle lanes and reallocate road space to give more room to pedestrians and cyclists. The remaining £25 million of emergency funding will be used to help people get their bikes repaired so they can get back to cycling.

On Friday, the Transport Secretary amended laws to reduce red tape and halve the time it takes for councils to get these schemes up and running, helping local authorities accommodate for the step-change in behaviour as more people turn to cycling and walking.

This comes as additional funding is made available for bus and light rail services across England – including £2.6 million for the Sheffield Supertram to help increase the number of services as quickly as possible. The funding will give operators the resources to ramp up light rail services, allowing people travelling to hospitals, supermarkets or their place of work to get to their destination while helping ensure there is enough space for them to observe social distancing guidelines.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:“From NHS staff to transport and shop workers, teachers, volunteers and all those staying at home, people across the country are all sharing the same public-spirited approach to tackling the spread of this virus and keeping others safe.

“To make sure people can travel safely when they need to, we are increasing capacity on buses and light rail, as well as helping local authorities fast-track plans to support cyclists and pedestrians, further reducing pressure on our transport network.

“These measures will help keep passengers safe now, but we must also prepare for what comes next. Strengthening vital road and railway connections, as well as encouraging cycling and walking, will be essential to our ambition to level up the country, secure a green legacy, and kickstart regional economies, as we build out of Covid-19 and look to the future.”

Cycling Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “We’re living in a time where many people are cycling and walking more than they did before, and we must build on this opportunity to bring about longer-term change – where active travel is viewed as the default for shorter journeys, long after this crisis has finished.

“This funding for Yorkshire and the Humber will help councils provide more space for walking and cycling and make it easier for people to get out and about and reduce the pressure on public transport.”

As part of plans to build on the numbers of people who have taken to their bikes during the coronavirus pandemic, Government is investing almost £100k to make stations across the region better for people who want to build cycling into part of a longer journey once restrictions are eased. This investment from the latest round of Cycle Rail funding will pay for 105 bike spaces at four railway stations. This will encourage, when restrictions are lifted, people to incorporate cycling as part of a longer journey.

The Government has today also announced the preferred route for the £1 billion A66 Transpennine upgrade, which will provide vital improvements to a key regional link which helps to connect Glasgow and Edinburgh with Leeds, Sheffield and Norwich, improving journey times, reliability and resilience for communities across the North. The new scheme will dual the six remaining single carriageway sections of the route and upgrade key junctions, speeding up journeys, easing congestion and boosting growth. The road is an important link across the Pennines and is a key connection used on routes between ports around the country, meaning that the wider UK economy will benefit from improvements and faster journeys.

Today’s package follows the announcement of £196 million for Yorkshire and the Humber from the Transport Infrastructure Investment Fund which is being invested to help councils improve roads, repair bridges and fill millions of potholes in their communities.