Almost one in every two people living in the North of England (49%), Midlands and Wales (48%) say they would find it hard to use more public transport to reduce carbon emissions, according to a new survey of the British public. This compares with only a quarter (25%) of respondents in London, according to the survey commissioned by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

The findings come as the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure (APPGI) and ICE launch a consultation on how to speed up delivery of the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan. The consultation opens today and is seeking ideas on how to accelerate delivery of the £96 billion set aside to deliver “faster, greener and more frequent rail services” to support towns and cities across the North, Midlands and beyond.

The Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), published in November 2021, scaled back the Eastern Leg of the High Speed 2 railway, opting instead for improved local rail links across the North and Midlands. It also proposed a Core Pipeline of rail projects to be prioritised, giving passengers and developers more certainty. None of the significant projects announced in the IRP are planned to start until 2025.

Andrew Jones MP, chair of the APPGI and the research programme and former transport minister, said: “We want to hear proposals for how the Integrated Rail Plan can deliver benefits faster. As someone who travels frequently between my Yorkshire constituency and London, I see the differences in public transport. The Integrated Rail Plan gives us a good approach to levelling up rail services and this work is about ideas to deliver it faster, and targeted to the right areas. There is so much expertise in the sector I want to tap into it to support the government programme.”

Today’s consultation is seeking workable proposals on three key questions: What are realistic timescales for delivery for individual schemes in the IRP Core Pipeline? What measures could be taken to accelerate the delivery of individual projects in the Pipeline and the Plan as a whole? What principles could be used to determine what could be added to the Core Pipeline in the future and when?

Rachel Skinner, deputy chair of the research programme, former President of ICE and executive director of WSP, said: “Efficient public transport is vital for the smooth running of our day-to-day lives while helping to deliver cleaner air and reduced emissions for trips where walking and cycling are not practical. This is particularly true in parts of the country that have seen under-investment in the past. We need workable ideas on how the Government’s rail plan can be delivered faster and clarity to guide future investment.”

The consultation opens today and will last for six weeks until 5 August 2022. It is seeking proposals from all sorts of groups including civil engineers, infrastructure professionals, policy thinkers, campaign groups and the wider transport community. These will help inform advice that will be given to local and national policymakers later this year.