Millions of people across the country are set to benefit from an ambitious five-year £38bn spending and investment programme – part of the biggest sustained investment programme ever – that will transform today’s railway giving passengers more trains, more seats, reduced congestion and bigger, better stations.
The five-year plan will see the busiest parts of Britain’s rail network targeted making a very real difference to millions of people’s lives and providing a significant boost to the economy.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “A key part of this government’s long term economic plan is investing in world class infrastructure. That is why we are putting record amounts of government funding into our railways over the next five years. That investment will generate growth, create jobs and boost business while delivering faster journeys, greater comfort and better punctuality for passengers across the UK.”
Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “Millions of passengers and freight users will benefit enormously from the plans we set out today to wisely spend and invest £38bn in transforming some of the busiest parts of our railway network.”
The people of Devon and Cornwall also heard some good news today as Network Rail confirmed that their railway will be reconnected to Britain’s network on 4 April following two months of tremendous efforts by hundreds of railway engineers in, and around, Dawlish. A massive landslip, involving the collapse of 20,000 tonnes of cliff-face near Teignmouth on 4 March, had threatened the planned opening.
“Dawlish has shown us at our best when we work in a planned, disciplined and innovative way. Our aim is to emulate that approach and embed it in our organisation so that we are continuously improving the service for our customers.”
Today, more than 1.5bn passenger journeys are made by rail each year and by 2019 the railway will be carrying more people than at any time in its history. The rail industry’s five-year plan will:
- Provide capacity for 170,000 extra seats for commuters at peak time
- Shorten journeys and provide for hundreds more daily services between the cities of the north (Northern Hub)
- Electrify more than 850 miles of railway and see whole new fleets of electric trains
- Transform hundreds of stations around the country including London Bridge, Manchester Victoria, Birmingham New Street and Glasgow Queen Street
Improving passenger, public and workforce safety will also feature prominently throughout control period 5 (2014-19) with plans to close a further 500 level crossings on top of the almost 800 closed since 2010, reducing risk by a further 25%.
Mr Carne commented: “Passenger, public and workforce safety will be at the core of our plans. Good safety performance and good train and business performance go hand-in-hand and in both, we must strive for, and deliver, continuous improvement day by day.”
As well as the big projects, the day-to-day task of delivering a safe and reliable railway will be even more important and tough to deliver as more services and more improvement work becomes ever more challenging to balance. Investment in this area includes:
- Renewing over 7,000km of track – enough to reach from London to Mumbai
- 75 football pitches worth of station platforms replaced (300,000m²)
- Improving train punctuality to 92.5% across the country – the best performing in Europe
- Cutting the cost of running the British railway network by 20% making it one of the most efficient in Europe
- Investing in new technology and equipment that will deliver step-changes in productivity and efficiency
Mr Carne concluded: “Britain’s railways are a vital part of our national infrastructure. They connect homes and workplaces, businesses with markets, they create jobs, stimulate trade and support the growth of a balanced economy.
“We are good at delivering projects both great and small and at providing a safe and reliable railway but want to do even more for the people that rely on our railway network. This investment responds to the growth and demands being placed upon us by delivering bigger, better stations, more trains and seats, reopened railway lines and fewer level crossings. We all want an improving, safer, successful and better value railway for everyone, and that is what we will do.”