£9bn railway investment announced by coalition


David Cameron: ''It's about getting people and freight off the roads and onto the railway''

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A £9.4bn package of investment in the railways in England and Wales, including £4.2bn of new schemes, has been unveiled by the government.

The plans include electrification of the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Sheffield.

Other rail improvements have been unveiled for the Manchester area, south Wales and East Coast Main Line.

Prime Minister David Cameron called it the "biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian era".

During a visit to Birmingham to announce the railway investment, the PM said it would lead to the electrification of an extra 850 miles of track.

He said: "This investment will mean faster journeys, more seats, better access to stations, greater freight links and a truly world-class rail network."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who joined the PM on the visit, said the plans would help "close the north south divide".

It includes £5.2bn for the completion of current schemes, such as Crossrail and Thameslink and £4.2bn for new projects.

These include:

  • A high-capacity "electric spine" running from Yorkshire and the West Midlands to south coast ports, boosting passenger and freight capacity
  • An £800m electrification and upgrade from Sheffield to Bedford, completing the full electrification of the Midland Main Line
  • Electrification extended from Cardiff to Swansea, costing £600m, plus electrification of the Welsh valley lines
  • The Northern Hub - a series of projects around Manchester worth £322m that improve northern rail capacity to get more and faster trains across the north of England
  • Upgrades to the East Coast Main Line from London to Leeds and Newcastle worth £240m to create faster journeys and increase capacity
  • Upgrades to stations and tracks creating capacity for an additional 140,000 daily rail commutes around cities at peak times, including £350m for lengthening platforms at London's Waterloo station
  • A new £500m rail link between the Great Western Main Line and Heathrow

Building work on the rail projects will not start until at least 2014, as the announcement covers the period 2014 to 2019.

Map of planned electrification of rail routes

The government said it would be funded "in part from fare rises already announced in 2010 and also from the substantial efficiency savings which projects like electrification will have on the long-term operating costs of the railways".

In January this year, passengers faced average increases of RPI inflation plus 1% on regulated fares, which are set to rise by RPI plus 3% in January 2013 and 14.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the government had a long-term plan to make the rail industry work more efficiently and stop the above-inflation fare rises.

"We've got to get the money from somewhere so, for the time being, the passengers are paying," she said.

"We all know that diesel is massively expensive so if we can move over to electric trains, not only are they greener, they're also cheaper and also they are lighter too, so what that means is that when they are on the track they don't damage it so much, so maintenance costs go down too," she added.

Regarding access to the rail network, she later told Parliament she was initially making £20m available for Network Rail to invite bids for new stations.

Value for money

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: "We welcome this investment, it was actually first announced under the last Labour government... but this won't help jobs and growth now, as there's not going to be a penny spent until after 2014."


A lot of electric railway lines and new track can be bought for £9.4bn but how does the money break down and what difference could it make? Oh, and who pays for it?

Well, for starters, £5.2bn will go to either continue or finish off projects that have been under way for some years.

But the rest is new and it will mean faster journey times, more seats and spruced up stations, with many regions in England and Wales benefiting, especially across the north of England.

The trick will be to fund all of this whizzy new kit without ticket prices going through the roof. We already know season tickets, along with some other fares, will go up by inflation plus 3% in January 2013 and January 2014.

They'll then go up by inflation plus 1% in 2015. The government says it wants to stop further rises by saving money across the industry. If it can't manage that, fares could rise for many years to come to help pay for all this new investment.

She refused to rule out renationalising the railways to ensure better value for money.

But Labour played down the significance of her comments, saying the focus would be on local solutions.

Bob Crow, general secretary of transport union the RMT, said: "What we need is investment in rail today not yet another political promise of jam tomorrow."

Chief executive of rail customer watchdog Passenger Focus, Anthony Smith, said passengers would welcome the "scale and ambition" of the investment.

But he added: "Value for money remains a concern. Passengers will want to see the government avoid above-inflation fare increases. These investments must be delivered in a cost-effective way."

Campaign for Better Transport chief executive Stephen Joseph said the investment was good news, but the two years of fare increases would mean many passengers could not afford its benefits.

"At a time when public subsidy of the railways is falling and efficiency savings in the industry are already reducing costs, there is simply no need to make passengers pay over the odds," he said.

Network Rail is funded by a £3.5bn annual government grant and income from track access charges - either rail fares or revenue support payments from the government. It also borrows money which the government guarantees.


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  • Comment number 258.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    I welcome investment in rail infrastructure and services and i think modernisation is long overdue. However, i dont see why so much has to come from the public purse. What is the amount being invested by the private companies? How much are the 'fat cats' going to skim off that £9bn?
    People want seating and cheaper fares. Oh, and a timely service - how about sorting that out?

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    Renationalise the railways and give it back to the engineers who knew how to run a transport system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    About time, large investment is long overdue on the railways, my only concern is that it won't be enough to both improve the service whilst making it affordable to all!

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    This annoucement bears an ucanny resemblance to the annoucement on the 26 November 2010, which you can search for on the bbc website. There does not appear to be any new schemes, northern hub, electrification, it's all there 2 years ago! Must be trying to cheer us up with some fake new news....

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    216.Metzalin - No. You are not buying trains, you are improving the infrastructure.
    221.PeteN - What makes you think HS2 has been cancelled?

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    People who say that train travel is only for the rich should get their facts right. Turn up at the station for an early morning train from (say) Doncaster to London then you may pay around £190.00 return. Book in advance departing on (say) 20 August departing 0719 and returning at 1719 will cost circa £60.00. Delay your journey 2 hours and the price may be as low as circa £37.00. Very cheap.

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    If there's all this planned investment for rail in the midlands wouldn't it make sense if there's to be a new airport or runway to locate it 'up north'. It would boost the economies in the midlands and you'd have the rail infrastructure for people to get around the country. That said, expect a 'U' turn form the Gov within 6 mnths.

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    What about Scottish and Northern Ireland railways?

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    210.Victor Mackey
    It’s already happening and at an alarming rate. With a lot of the big boys now entering the fray, the likes of Stobart, DB Schenker, etc… there is insufficient capacity to handle rail freight. Part of the Northern Hub is to provide a second freight route across Manchester and with the prospect of Liverpool become a deep water port; even more capacity will be required.

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    I do hope that the £9bn will be spent with UK Companies....that is supposing we still have the companies that can deliver this type of work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    Great to hear of investment in infrastructure as long as the money stays in this country. Hope we will not be seeing large-scale imports of machinery, equipment and labour from Europe. This country must see the benefit of the process as well as the end result.

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.


    Statistically BR was better in all of those respects than the privatized companies running the franchises. They also did it with less government subsidization.

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    @209. TRAND "I don't believe the comments here!. When the government announced HS2 every body complained..."

    Because HS2 is an EU/German vanity project, that will destroy English countryside to no good purpose, just so Eurocrats can speed to Scotland in comfort, gazing at their British fiefdoms along the way.

    And it'd cost us BILLIONS more.

    HS2 is BAD for the UK. Complain? We should protest!

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    The East Coast main line has been much better since it was electrified.
    Its about time the rest of our antiquated system was upgraded and we replaced diesel locomotives with electric.
    This has been a long time coming.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    217. "Why is it that EVERY time there is an announcement about MAJOR transport upgrades it is always England and Wales"

    Because the DfT's jurisdiction doesn't exetend to Scotland. Transport Scotland decides how to spend Scottish money on Scottish transport, and there's plenty of rail investment going on there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    Since Cameron's party have been in government for more than 1/2 the 64 years the railways have been under state control he should be hanging his head in shame,
    It was tories that gave us Railtrack and the Beeching Axe, whilst labour have been equally useless, leaving us with the worst system in western europe.
    It's not as if we had a superior roads to compensate.
    Maybe we get what we deserve.

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    Piglet 169
    For those of you who think the cost of running a car is just the cost of the petrol etc

    SeeDuya 184
    That's a silly argument. If my boss wants me to use my car he is effectively renting it off me.

    It would therefore be more sensible to pay you for the equivalent railway fare.
    You’ll be saying next that you need a chauffer as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    Just to put this "new" £12bn investement into a UK-wide context. Current Rail Projects : Crossrail (For London commuters) £8bn Underground Upgrade (For London Commuters ) £12bn Thameslink 2000 (for London Commuters ) £6bn Current Announcement (For The Other 52 million people in the UK) £9bn We are eternally grateful...

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    The taxpayer has always paid for the railway system one way or the other. When it was a nationalised service and prior to Beechings massive cuts in the 1960's I remember the headlines "British Rail lose a million pounds a day in state funding". The nation could not afford a state run system. It was overmanned and poorly run and grossly inefficient but we did have more money to waste then than now.


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