Transport Secretary Grant Shapps pledges £2bn to improve road and rail networks

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says building new hospitals in weeks during coronavirus crisis shows it should not take '20 years to build a road' as he pledges to 'rapidly improve' UK infrastructure

  • Grant Shapps pointed to building of NHS Nightingale hospitals during crisis 
  • He said if hospitals can be built quickly there is no reason roads cannot be too 
  • He said UK must use 'new-found capacity to respond at pace' to new projects
  • Here's how to help people impacted by Covid-19

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Grant Shapps today said the fact the UK was able to build new hospitals within a matter of weeks during the coronavirus crisis shows major infrastructure projects like new roads should not take years to complete. 

The Transport Secretary said Britain 'must exploit our new-found capacity to respond at pace' to major challenges and 'apply it to rapidly improving our infrastructure'. 

It came as Mr Shapps announced a ?2 billion pot of cash which will be spent on upgrading the nation's roads and railways to 'get our economy growing once again'. 

Grant Shapps today announced a ?2 billion plan to improve the UK's roads and rail networks 

At the daily Downing Street press conference, Mr Shapps said the lockdown had been used to carry out a range of maintenance projects on the road and rail networks.  

He said the 'largely unused transport network' had been worked on so that the UK can 'recover faster when the time comes'. 

Recent work included Network Rail completing 419 separate projects over Easter with a further 1,000 upgrades over the May bank holiday. 

Citing the success of a handful of Nightingale emergency hospitals which were rapidly set up across the country in recent weeks, Mr Shapps said the days of 'bureaucratic bindweed' making UK infrastructure building the slowest in the world were coming to an end.   

He said: 'If building a new hospital takes just two weeks, why should building a new road still take as long as 20 years?

'If GPs' surgeries can move online, why are most rail passengers still travelling on cardboard tickets?

'We must exploit our new-found capacity to respond at pace and apply it to rapidly improving our infrastructure.'  

The Department for Transport said the ?2 billion announced by Mr Shapps was existing money which has been fast-tracked so it can be spent in the coming weeks. 

The Transport Secretary said: 'To make sure that Britain is ready to bounce back from coronavirus today I can announce nearly ?2billion to upgrade our roads and our railways, to put our transport infrastructure in the best possible shape and to get our economy growing once again. 

'This package includes ?1.7billion for local roads, making journeys smoother and safer for drivers, hauliers, cyclists, motor cyclists, pedestrians and others. 

'By filling millions of dangerous potholes we can make our roads safer and encourage more people to cycle or even take part in the upcoming e-scooter trials, helping more people play our part in relieving public pressure on public transport.' 

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