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A new TUC report published today (Wednesday) sets out an investment plan for public transport across England and Wales to meet net zero targets, improve quality of life, and boost the UK economy.
  • NEW investment plan to hit net zero targets would create high quality jobs in transport and manufacturing throughout the region 
  • Productivity gains would boost annual North East GDP by £2.6 billion by 2030  
  • Meeting net zero emissions in transport will “improve the quality of everyone’s lives”, says TUC 

The TUC says that the plan fills a gaping hole in the government’s recently published net-zero strategy, which failed to explain how ministers will achieve the ‘modal shift’ away from car use that the Committee on Climate Change says is necessary.

The report includes a section on the investment needed in the North East and the benefits it will bring (Pages 51-53).

Overview of plan

The investment plan published today – produced for the TUC by Transport for Quality of Life – is designed to meet the UK’s target to cut emissions by 68% by 2030 (from 1990 levels).

The transition to electric cars is vital, but not sufficient. The UK Climate Change Committee warns that: “Electric vehicles must not be the sole focus, with action also needed on demand and a modal shift.”

To reach the 2030 emissions target, a reduction in total car mileage of at least 20% is needed.

The Scottish government has already set a target to achieve this reduction. Today’s report sets out how it can be achieved in England (not including London) and Wales, based on the combination of:

  • 10% car mileage reduction through car-sharing and measures that reduce travel, such as working from home, remote technologies and better planning and land use.
  • 10% car mileage reduction from a modal shift to public transport.
  • 120% mileage increase in journeys by bus and tram.
  • 80% mileage increase in journeys by rail.

The plan would require an average of £9.9 billion in annual capital expenditure up to 2035. And the additional operating costs for expanded bus, tram and rail services would reach £18.8bn annually by 2030.

Economic and social benefits

Productivity gains:

The plan is estimated to boost annual GDP by £52.1 billion across England (excluding London) and Wales through productivity gains, including £2.6 billion in the North East. 

This estimate is based on productivity comparisons with European population centres that have better public transport provision than the UK.

Further GDP gains:

The investment plan will generate GDP growth from construction work and supply chains through the period of capital expenditure to 2035.

In less urbanised areas where the estimated productivity gains are lower due to the nature of industry, the investment plan can support growth in sectors like tourism and hospitality.

Job creation in the North East:

Around 3,000 additional jobs (operation and maintenance) in the bus industry and a further 31,000 in construction/manufacture of bus infrastructure and electric buses.

Around 600 additional jobs in the light rail/tram industry (operation and maintenance only) and 23,000 in construction over 12 years.

Around 1,000 additional jobs in the rail industry (operation and maintenance only) and 186,000 in construction over 12 years.

Social benefits:

In 2020, a fifth of UK households had no access to a car, rising to 35% in the lowest income bracket.

This plan will extend social and economic inclusion by increasing routes and reducing journey time, aiding journeys for accessing work, public services, retail, leisure, family, and friends.

Public transport use has health benefits compared to cars, as journeys tend to include walking or cycling to access services.

New public transport services

The TUC believes that ministers and transport authorities should consult the public about how to extend and upgrade public transport services where they live and work.

However, the TUC recommends that as part of the overall programme the investment plan could fund all the public transport extension and upgrades outlined within the North East Rail and Metro plan, including the restoration of the Leamside line.

TUC Regional Secretary Liz Blackshaw said:

"Everyone knows that we have to cut carbon emissions – and that switching to public transport is a big part of how do it. With this report, we’ve done the work the government should have done with its empty and incompetent net zero strategy.

"Investment in public transport across the North East will help us meet net zero targets and reduce the threat of catastrophic climate change. And it creates thousands of jobs in our region, boosts the economy in every community, and improves everyone’s quality of life.

“Commuters will have faster and cheaper journeys to work. New connections will bring new businesses to places where people need economic opportunities. We will save lives with cleaner air. And we will reduce loneliness and isolation by making everyone better connected, wherever you live.”

Editors note

- Public transport for the climate emergency – full report:  The report was written for the TUC by Transport for Quality of Life. Full copies can be downloaded here:

- Why London is not included: The Mayor of London has set ambitious targets for the capital to reach net zero emissions by 2030, compared to the UK target year of 2050. This will require progress on a faster scale than covered by the methodology in this report. For a longer explanation of London’s needs, and the reasons for excluding it from the calculations, see pages 20-21 of the report.

- About the TUC: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.


TUC press office  
020 7467 1248

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