On infrastructure, the Statement is broadly in line with expectations. The monetary amounts specified do not seem prima facie to be all that large, given the scale of the problems being addressed. But, these are of course in addition to amounts already committed for infrastructure purposes. So, with the money available for the new National Productivity Investment Fund, total capital spending on infrastructure, together with spending on housing and R&D, will come to £170 billion over the next five years. It seems more encouraging when viewed in aggregate.
The £1.1 billion to reduce congestion and upgrade local roads and transport, plus the £220 million to relieve 'pinch points' on motorways and A roads, are steps in the right direction. As is the £450 million to be spent on digital signalling technology, in an attempt to squeeze more capacity out of the existing rail network. But if road and rail traffic grow significantly faster than forecast—as indeed they might—the country might still be 'playing catch-up' in five years' time.
On the point regarding greater investment in linkages along the east-west axis, the development of an expressway between Oxford and Cambridge is to be warmly welcomed, but so too would have been more news of the longer-term project of reviving rail transport between these two cities, rehabilitating the old 'Varsity Line'.