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Government pledges £9.4bn for rail projects - full report

The rail industry must deliver its next five-year programme of work for £700M less than it had hoped, the government’s High Level Output Specification (HLOS) for the railway for 2014 to 2019 has confirmed.

Transport secretary Justine Greening has confirmed £16bn of public support for rail in this period, of which £9.4bn will support infrastructure enhancement projects (see box, below).

The cash is a £2.4bn drop on the £11.8bn being spent on enhancement projects in the current 2009-2014 control period and is £700M less than the £10.1bn asked for by the rail industry in its Initial Industry Plan, published last Autumn (NCE 6 October 2011).

Efficiencies demanded

The HLOS expects that the work is delivered for the cash available, largely by industry achieving the government’s stated ambition to see the rail industry reduce costs by £3.5bn by 2019, as set out in March’s Command Paper (NCE 15 March).

The IIP said that savings between £2.5bn and £3.5bn are achievable, but that the full £3.5bn saving could only be delivered if government suitably reforms train operating company franchises to allow work on the railway to take place in a more cost effective way, with Network Rail and TOCs operating as partners. The IIP was written by Network Rail, train operators and industry suppliers.

But the HLOS statement says that the savings must be achieved regardless.

“The total level of funds available is final,” says the HLOS. “It represents the maximum funding available for the industry.

“The secretary of state expects the industry and rail regulator continue to work together to ensure that actual industry costs are below those assumed in the Statement of Funds Available and that the maximum possible level of efficiency improvements are sought.”

Network Rail chief executive David Higgins said he did not “underestimate” the task. “There are some tough targets. We will work alongside industry partners in the Rail Delivery Group to respond with a suitable plan,” he said.

A Network Rail spokesman added that the rail operator would make no further comment until it had formalised a business plan to deliver the programme. This is not likely to be until next January.

Industry welcomed the announcement.

“Any news that commits government to spending is good news, even if some of the schemes have been on the drawing board for a number of years,” said Turner and Townsend chief executive Vince Clancy.

Of the £9.4bn cash injection, £5.2bn has previously been committed to ongoing projects including Thameslink, Crossrail and electrification of the Great Western Main Line and other electrification projects in the North West and Yorkshire.

The additional £4.2bn is focused on creating what the government calls an “electric spine” through England and includes the electrification of the Midland Main Line and further targeted electrification alongside this; increased rail capacity for commuters; and over £900M investment in funding for smaller schemes to improve stations and the strategic rail freight network.          

This includes £500M to link Heathrow airport to the Great Western Main Line to improve access to the airport from the south west.

Skills boost

WSP UK managing director Paul Dollin said the news would allow firms to invest in skiils.

“One of my objectives in leading a national engineering and construction business is getting our best people focused on the best opportunities,” he said. “We welcome the investment to improve the transportation network which will ultimately support us in achieving this objective. This is a great step forward as economic recovery starts at the grass roots level which is about companies like WSP being able to continually improve their businesses.”

Illustrative infrastructure enhancements

The HLOS sets out how the government wants the rail network to look in 2019, through outputs rather than specific schemes. But it does provide what it describes as “illustrative schemes” on which it has based its cost calcualtions and which Network Rail may choose to adopt, or find a cheaper option that allows the desired train service option to operate.

The Electric Spine

  • Southampton Port - Basingstoke enhancement from 750 DC third railelectrification to 25 kv AC overhead electrification;
  • Basingstoke - Reading 25 kv AC overhead electrification;
  • Oxford - Banbury - Leamington Spa 25 kv AC overhead electrification;
  • Leamington Spa - Coventry capacity enhancement 25 kv AC overhead electrification and additional double track;
  • Coventry - Nuneaton 25 kv AC overhead electrification;
  • Oxford - Bicester Town - Bletchley - Bedford 25 kv AC overhead electrification and double track (core of East West Rail);
  • Bedford - Nottingham and Derby, and Derby - Sheffield (Midland Main Line) 25 kv AC overhead electrification;
  • Leicester area capacity enhancement (freight/passenger crossing flows);
  • Derby station area remodelling in conjunction with renewals;
  • Sheffield station area remodelling in conjunction with renewals;
  • Kettering - Corby 25 kv AC overhead electrification;
  • Kettering - Corby capacity enhancement (additional double track); And, where applicable, on all routes loading gauge enhancement to W12

South Wales Electrification

25 kv AC overhead electrification of:

  • Cardiff Central to Cardiff Queen Street,
  • Cardiff Queen Street to Aberdare,
  • Cardiff Queen Street to Cardiff Bay,
  • Cardiff Queen Street to Coryton,
  • Newport to Ebbw Vale,
  • Cardiff Central - Pontyclun - Bridgend - Maesteg,
  • Abercynon - Merthyr Tydfil,
  • Grangetown to Penarth,
  • Cardiff Central - Danescourt - Radyr (City Line),
  • Cardiff Queen Street to Rhymney,
  • Pontypridd to Treherbert,
  • Cardiff Central - Barry - Bridgend (Vale of Glamorgan),
  • Barry to Barry Island
  • Bridgend to Swansea.

Thames Valley

  • Acton - Willesden 25 kv AC overhead electrification.
  • Slough - Windsor 25 kv AC overhead electrification.
  • Maidenhead - Marlow 25 kv AC overhead electrification.
  • Twyford - Henley-on-Thames 25 kv AC overhead electrification
  • Oxford station area capacity and station enlargement.


  • Walsall - Rugeley 25 kv AC overhead electrification,
  • Water Orton - Tamworth capacit;
  • Depot and stabling enhancement for extra trains.


  • Micklefield - Selby 25 kv AC overhead electrification,
  • Micklefield turnback,
  • Huddersfield Station capacity enhancement,
  • West Yorkshire platform lengthening including Leeds,
  • South Yorkshire platform lengthening
  • Depot and stabling enhancement for extra trains.

Airports and Ports

  • Heathrow Western Access subject to business case and conclusion of an agreement with the aviation industry,
  • Ely area capacity enhancement (freight/passenger crossing flows)
  • Redhill additional platform

Northern Hub and Manchester

  • Liverpool - Manchester track capacity (Huyton - Northern Hub),
  • Manchester Airport fourth platform (Northern Hub),
  • Castlefield corridor additional capacity and additional through platforms at Manchester Piccadilly (Northern Hub),
  • Rochdale turnback (Northern Hub),
  • Depot and stabling enhancement for extra trains

South East

  • London Waterloo platform lengthening and station throat expansion,
  • Virginia Water - Reading line platform lengthening for 10-car operation,
  • Gordon Hill turnback,
  • West Anglia Lower Lea Valley capacity enhancement (turnback facilities),
  • Bow Junction capacity enhancement (potentially CP6),
  • East Kent capacity enhancement including relocation of Rochester Station,
  • Uckfield line platform lengthening for 10-car operation,
  • Norwood Junction capacity enhancement (turnback facilities),
  • Paddington station passenger capacity improvements,
  • Victoria station passenger capacity improvements,
  • Clapham Junction station congestion relief,
  • Wimbledon station congestion relief,
  • Traction power upgrade - Kent, Sussex, Wessex, Anglia, LNE,
  • South London HV traction power upgrade
  • Depot and stabling enhancement for extra trains


  • Filton - Bristol capacity enhancement (four-track).
  • Bristol Temple Meads station capacity and incorporation of historic Digby Wyatt train shed. Station potentially a focus of wider city regeneration.
  • Route gauge clearance for different DMUs.

East Coast (Ring fenced £240M enhancement fund)

  • Stevenage Down platform addition,
  • Huntingdon - Fletton capacity enhancement (four track),
  • Peterborough Down LDHS call time reduction,
  • Peterborough grade separation for access to GE/GN line,
  • Doncaster bay platform and track capacity
  • ERTMS signalling system fitted on the south end of the East Coast Main Line (renewals item and not funded as an enhancement).

Other enhancement Funds

  • £200M Strategic Freight Network
  • £300M Passenger Journey Improvement
  • £100M Station Infrastructure Improvement
  • £100M Station Access for All
  • £140M Development and Innovation
  • £65M Level Crossing Improvement



Readers' comments (1)

  • In the South Wales section you have listed "Newport to Ebbw Vale" as being part of the electrificatioin proposals. There is not an existing rail service betwen Newport and Ebbw Vale and as far as I am aware the Welsh Assembly Government has no intentions or proposals to provide this link. The lack of this link is a major contributor to Newport 's City Centre decline.

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