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Network Rail outlines proposed £30bn spend

Network Rail today published its business plan for 2009-2014, outlining how it intends to spend some £30bn to upgrade and improve the British rail network.

The proposals will now go to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), who will negotiate with Network Rail until late 2008 when the final spending plans will be approved.

Highlights include:

- Doubling rail expansion spending to £9.6bn
- Driving up punctuality to 92% by 2014
- Halve the costs of running the railway by 2014
- £11.4bn to renew track, signals, structures and stations
- £10.4bn on day-to-day operating costs

Network Rail propose that there will be more than 100,000 extra seats every day in the UK over this period.

Network Rail's chief executive, Iain Coucher said, "More and more people are using our railways. We, and the industry as a whole, recognise that this success brings new and exciting challenges.

"Growth and expansion is where we will focus our efforts in the years ahead and today's plan highlights a raft of small, medium and large expansion schemes that will provide passengers and freight users with a bigger, better railway that delivers more trains, more seats, more often.

"Delivering a safe, punctual and reliable railway each and every day will always stay at the core of our business."

Key expansion projects will be:

£2.6bn for the Thameslink upgrade

£455M to redevelop Reading station

£170M for Glasgow airport link

£153M for King's Cross remodelling

£145M for Airdrie to Bathgate new railway project

£134M to develop Birmingham New Street station

£234M special fund for small improvement schemes

£156M for other national stations

£70M for Peterborough to Nuneaton freight gauge enhancement

£33M for Southampton to the West Coast 'big-box' scheme

£7M for Cross London gauge and capacity improvements

Coucher said, "We want to provide a railway that people want to use. This industry plan can do just that, meeting Government priorities as well as the needs of passengers and freight users.

"The money that we invest now will reap huge benefits and will make rail the travel option of choice. Rarely before has the country had such a great opportunity to improve rail services for the benefit of our industry partners, users of the railway, taxpayers and the economy as a whole."

The Office of Rail Regulation welcomed the report. Bill Emery, ORR Chief Executive, said, "The industry has made good progress over the last five years. Performance is improving, costs are reducing and passengers and freight customers are returning to the railways.

"We will be looking at how Network Rail's strategic business plan seeks to maintain these improvements and sets out how the company proposes to develop during the next regulatory control period.

"We will now begin a thorough review of the plan. We will be looking for the plan to contain further significant improvements in performance and efficiency as well as providing a fuller justification for its activities and expenditure than it contained in its initial strategic business plan last year.

"Our assessment of the SBP will continue until June 2008, when we expect to publish our draft determinations on the company's outputs, expenditure and access charges," he said.

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