National News and Views

Net zero research hub, Zebra funding and MaaS guidance

Net zero research hub includes University of Cambridge

The Transport Secretary has announced today the launch of a new research hub, backed by £10 million in funding from the Department for Transport, National Highways, HS2 Ltd, Network Rail and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

University of Cambridge, Newcastle University, Heriot-Watt University and University of Glasgow have been awarded the funding to establish the Net Zero Transport for a Resilient Future Hub, where they will develop innovative ideas to ensure future transport infrastructure is low-carbon and resilient.

EEH formally supported the application and looks forward to collaborating with the successful consortium.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "The UK is cementing its position as a world leader in net zero tech with this new investment into climate resilience. Our Net Zero transport hub will be a centre of academic excellence, helping us keep our transport network resilient into the future."

Rural communities prioritised for Zebra bus funding

The Transport Secretary also today announced funding of up to £129 million to help local transport authorities introduce hundreds more zero emission buses.

To ensure more parts of England benefit, particularly remote areas, government says it has prioritised the first £25 million for rural communities.

The Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) 2 scheme is now open for bids from all local authorities in England (outside London), with applications to be prioritised from those that did not receive funding in the previous funding rounds.
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New MaaS guidance from government

Government has published new guidance to ensure smarter travel apps offer cheaper, safer and more accessible journeys.

Technology and Decarbonisation Minister Jesse Norman said: "With the new code of practice, the Department for Transport (DfT) is encouraging app providers to make the most of the new technology, helping to ensure potentially vulnerable groups and communities are not left behind."

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Other news of interest

Jo Shanmugalingam appointed as new Second Permanent Secretary at DfT

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that Jo Shanmugalingam has been appointed as the new Second Permanent Secretary at DfT. She is currently a Director General at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and brings significant experience from across government departments.

Appointed following an open competition, the Second Permanent Secretary will provide leadership of a number of high-profile areas across DfT, including decarbonising transport, and will start formally at the end of May.

On Jo's appointment Mark Harper, Transport Secretary said:
'I am delighted to be welcoming Jo, who brings a wealth of experience from across government departments. I look forward to working with her to improve transport right across the country, including leading on delivering some of our top ambitions like decarbonisation and levelling up.'

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Government spends 31 times more on maintaining motorways than repairing potholes

The Local Government Association reports that last year the government spent 31 times more per mile maintaining motorways than funding councils to repair potholes.

The government reportedly spent £192,000 per mile on strategic roads including motorways and major A roads, compared to £6,000 per mile on fixing potholes on local roads. Local roads make up 180,000 miles of the overall network whereas strategic roads make up 4,800 miles.

The LGA expressed that many councils have faced significant challenges with road repairs as a result of rising inflation and shortages of materials. For some councils it is costing up to 22% more to repair a pothole, latest estimates show.

Cllr David Renard, Transport spokesperson for the LGA said:

“All journeys by car begin and end on local roads, which make up the vast majority of our road network. Spending more on improving our motorways whilst neglecting crumbling local roads is counterproductive.

Despite the efforts of councils, which repair a pothole every 19 seconds, our local road repair backlog is rising, with latest estimates showing it would take over £12 billion and nine years to clear.

This coupled with soaring inflation is making it increasingly harder for councils to keep our roads in good condition."

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Repairing Roads
EV charging

Growth in Car Registrations

UK new car registrations grew by 26.2% in February as 74,441 new cars joined Britain’s roads, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

While February is typically low volume ahead of the March plate change, this year it marked the seventh month of consecutive growth as easing supply chain shortages steered the market closer to pre-pandemic levels, down just -6.5% on the same month in 2020.

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) recorded the most significant growth of all fuel types, up 40.0%, followed by petrol, up 35.8% with a 56.9% market share, while diesel registrations fell by -7.0%. Zero emission capable vehicles, meanwhile, continued their upward trend, with plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) rising 1.0% and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) posting another strong month, up 18.2% to account for one in six new UK car registrations.

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DfT freight

£7 million tech fund to decarbonise freight and boost innovation

The Department for Transport has announced a £7million fund for innovative technology to decarbonise freight and improve transport links. The funding will allow scaling up and rolling out of innovative technology across the industry.

The freight innovation fund is being awarded to up to 36 small and medium-sized enterprises. They will work with industry-leading companies, to develop innovations to make freight more efficient, resilient and greener. As well as ways to improve how freight moves between rail, road and maritime.

The fund will allow innovators to test their ideas and ways of working to unlock effiencies and emissions reductions across the sector.

Roads Minister Richard Holden said: "This fund will accelerate new ideas and technologies, helping to develop a future pipeline of innovations that can be rolled out to create jobs and allow everyone to get their goods faster and easier."

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