Spending cuts may hit road building

Road building is likely to be among the issues new Transport Secretary Philip Hammond will clash with the Treasury over as the Government looks to make major cutbacks.

The Conservatives have traditionally been keen on expanding the road network, but their coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, may not been so happy with new road schemes.

Labour chose to widen existing motorways and open the hard shoulder to use during busy periods to ease congestion, but the Tories may find there is no money for them to build new roads in any case.

The coalition partners have more common ground in other areas of transport. Both parties are opposed to a third runway at Heathrow airport, a plan which was immediately dropped, while no additional runways will be built at Stansted or Gatwick either.

The Tories hope to get to work on a high-speed rail line from London to the north in 2015 - two years earlier than the plan envisaged by Labour. The establishment of a high-speed rail network is included in the coalition agreement, however, it is debatable whether such an ambitious and expensive project can go ahead, given the need to rein in public spending.