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The government has cut £1bn from the rail infrastructure budget following the chancellor’s Spending Review.

Rishi Sunak had previously promised record infrastructure investment as part of the government’s “leveling up” agenda.

Until now, Network Rail’s “enhancement” budget for the five year period from 2019-24 had been set at £10.4bn.

But, this week rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said that the budget would now be £9.4bn.

That has put a question mark over some long-planned improvements to rail infrastructure.

The BBC has contacted the government for comment.

Clawback concerns

The cuts were not mentioned in Spending Review documentation, which stressed record investment in strategic road and rails projects.

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The shortfall is likely to leave some projects without funding. And the rail industry has raised concerns that the budget could be cut by as much as 10% overall if the government tries to claw back some funding that it was unable to spend this year, partly because of the pandemic. Darren Caplan, the chief executive of the Railway Industry Association, called the £1bn cut in funding “very disappointing”.”Rail enhancements are essential in ensuring our rail network is fit for the future, improving reliability, connectivity, customer experience and helping to reduce carbon emissions,” he said.”Taking our foot off the pedal now on rail investment will not help for when passengers return following the coronavirus pandemic.” Meanwhile, the government is believed to have told the industry to concentrate on the so-called “Northern Powerhouse” rail and reversing the Beeching cuts, which closed thousands of miles of railway in the sixties. Both plans featured in Boris Johnson’s manifesto. Since the start of the pandemic, the government has spent billions subsidizing the rail network, so that trains were able to continue running during the lockdown, even as commuters stayed at home.