Network Rail has today published delivery plans for the next five years, setting out how it will spend £35bn on over 500 projects aimed at providing extra capacity for passengers and freight.
The rail operator said the day marks “the start of a new era for rail in Britain”. Chief executive Iain Coucher said that Britain is “poised on the brink of a rail revolution”.
“Tomorrow we embark upon one of the most exciting chapters in the history of our railways. Network Rail is ready to unleash the biggest expansion of Britain’s railways since the age of Brunel.”
Of the £35bn to be spent on Britain’s railways over the next five years almost £12bn will be invested on projects designed to relieve overcrowding by lengthening platforms and increasing capacity and capability to enable more trains to run. £11.5bn will be invested in replacing older parts of the network (rail, signalling, bridges). A further £11.4bn will be spent on day-to-day maintenance and the costs of operating and running the network safely over the period.
“The next five years will see massive investment in improving the railways for passengers and freight users by adding capacity and relieving overcrowding. We will see a transformed railway through ambitious plans that will deliver more trains, more seats, longer trains and faster trains,” added Coucher.
“Services will be even more reliable, delays caused by the infrastructure will be cut by nearly 25% and we will embark upon an investment programme that is bigger and more ambitious than anything seen in a generation.
“Stations will be transformed and new ones built. Speeds will be increased. Bottlenecks will be unblocked. Thousands of new trains will debut, services will run more frequently at weekends and at bank holidays. And all this while time keeping is ramped up, costs driven down and safety boosted.
“Delivering all this will require major change across the industry and we should not underestimate the scale and difficulties of the challenge that lies ahead.”
Coucher said that the next five year programme will mark a change in direction, after the last five years were predominantly spent bringing the railway back to standard after years of underinvestment.
“The last five years has been about putting right the ills of the railway - this has been achieved with train punctuality, passenger satisfaction and railway safety all at record levels and billions cut from the cost of running the railway. The next five years will be focused on doing the basics even better and delivering a bigger, better railway for passengers and freight.”
Network Rail is committed to making even more trains run on time. By 2014 it is committed to record punctuality levels of 92.6% across England and Wales, and 92% in Scotland. This compares to just over 90% now and 78% at the time of Railtrack’s demise. Network Rail will also demand even more value for money from the supply chain – making savings of an extra 21% – on top of the 27% already achieved since 2004.
The plans are set out in a blueprint document, the CP4 (Control Period 4) Delivery Plan. It, and its supporting documents runs to over 800 pages. It details the improvements to be made on the national rail system over the next five years, how train performance will increase to even higher record levels and how safety will also reach new highs.