Between 2014 and 2019, Network Rail intends to invest £37 billion in rail infrastructure.
The strategy includes spending £6 billion to complete the Thameslink upgrade programme in London, £2.3 billion to complete the Crossrail project, and adding 20% more seats during the morning rush hour in the capital.
Outside of London, Network Rail has set aside £900 million to rebuild the Great Western Main Line’s main bottleneck in and around Reading station.
There will also be £600 million for the redevelopment of Birmingham New Street station and £560 million for the Northern Hub project, which Network Rail claims will create 20,000 jobs and increase rail capacity in the North of England by 700 services per day.
In Scotland, £360 million will be spent to reopen 31 miles of railway that were closed by Beeching in the 1960s and connect border towns to Edinburgh.
Network Rail in Wales will concentrate on electrifying the Great Western Main Line to Swansea and the Cardiff Valley lines. There will also be significant re-signalling work to improve reliability between Flint and Llandudno.
In addition, the plan calls for a £200 million investment in the Strategic Freight Network to support a 30% increase in freight capacity by 2019.
“Britain’s railways are booming,” said Paul Plummer, group strategy director at Network Rail, “with more people and businesses choosing rail than ever before and passenger satisfaction at record levels.” As a company and an industry, we are better positioned than ever to understand what needs to be done to build on this success and create a better railway that meets customers’ needs in a sustainable manner.”
“Early clarity from Government on the franchising and regulatory framework for rail will be critical in allowing train companies, Network Rail, and our suppliers to deliver the best possible deal for passengers and taxpayers,” said Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC).
“Passengers will welcome the fact that Network Rail and train companies are working together on a plan to deliver passenger and Government priorities: more trains on time and more seats,” said Anthony Smith, chief executive of consumer group Passenger Focus. According to Passenger Focus research, the three top priorities for passengers are value for money, dependability, and the ability to find a seat.
“This work must be planned and delivered with the passenger in mind.”
“We’re curious to see how all of this will be paid for.” Passengers already contribute roughly £2 for every pound spent by the government. To avoid another five years of above-inflation fare increases, the industry must address its value for money offering, reducing costs without reducing services.”