£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."

Analysis

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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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 418.

    No wonder the scottish want independence. All of this work stops short of their border. So much for a United Kingdom.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 417.

    Due to investment of railway near me HS1 my annual train journey up north has gone from 7hrs to just over 5hrs and no longer dragging suitcases through the underground. KingsCross / St Pancarus is a pleasure to travel through.

    I hope this investment does the same for others as for me.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 416.

    People putting their bags on the adjacent seat, putting their feet up on the opposite seat, leaving their litter (especially uneaten food/drink in containers), no consideration for others, not leaving room for others to get off at stops, disregard/disrespect for railway property. It's not the industry that's the problem - its the passengers!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 415.

    Privatisation was all about allowing greater investment from the private sector. However in the case of the railways, upgrades are provided by the tax payer, while profits are taken by the private sector. How come the Swiss can run their networks so efficiently?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 414.

    There's something wrong with your map of lines to be electrified; Sheffield seems to have moved to somewhere near York. It should be at the northern end of the line from Derby (and south of Manchester).

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 413.

    Idiotic waste of money.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 412.

    Whilst investment in infrastructure is a good thing,

    Why has the Government not addressed the glaringly obvious question --
    why does it cost more to travel by rail than by car? Do economies of scale not apply to the rail network?

    Or maybe it has something to do with a captive audience.....

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 411.

    Well we can garantee that in accordance with all major government projects the price tag will rise from £9bn to probably £25bn by the time its complete. Definately needed just curious as to why they dont tell us the true cost in the first place.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 410.

    396.Vivelo
    1 Minute Ago
    Commuting is and has destroyed small towns and villages trade.

    Yes, unfortunately to the point where there is no work in some small towns, so travelling to work is one of the few options - not to have a 'big house in the country'...but because there's no choice and those small town properties are in neg equity! Outside of Ldn/Home Counties of course.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 409.

    re 87# You did not say which way you go..Manchester to Leeds?. An improvement would be more coaches. My experience is that the overcrowding takes place between Huddersfield and Leeds and VV. If you are in WY people to complain too are WYTA either directly of though your councillor along with every one else. Us poor Mancunians can't do anything. I'ts the 'War of the Roses' you know.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 408.

    Looking at the map - who moved Sheffield to the east coast?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 407.

    Do the BBC really not know where Sheffield is?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 406.

    And yet still, after all of this, which I agree should be spent, we as taxpayers, will still end up subsidizing supposedly private companies to run trains: we will still be paying them money which will be paid off to stockholders as dividends and top executives in massive pay and bonus deals. I'm afraid a far more radical shake-up of the railways is needed than what has just been announced.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 405.

    £9bn !!
    A staggering amount of money to spend when you have got none.
    This money should be used to assist in cutting the country's debts NOT wasted on the trains.
    Politicians are elected to act in our best interest NOT to spend billions on hair-brained schemes that at best will improve services for under 5% of the population.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 404.

    This is the kind of infrastructure investment that needs to be done in a time when there is an investment 'strike' by the private sector. Is this a sign of a change in economic policy by the government? A recognition that the policy of austerity has worsened the situation? After the budget 'omnishambles' perhaps some sense is coming from the Treasury.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 403.

    yes we need to improve our rail structure .... but 2014, by that time no rail user will be able to affoerd to use the train as most of the populus will be unemployed unless they get there fingers out NOW and start investing in businesses and growth.....

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 402.

    Interesting that most of those who use the rail service always favour cheaper ticket prices. I wonder why? What about vast majority of people who never, or rarely, use the railways? I wonder what they favour? In the words of Bastait "Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else" (railway tickets included)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 401.

    I can see no point to an upgrade to Heathrow. Yopu might just as well have a feeder flight from Cardiff and Bristol. You can check in there an a flight is half the time

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 400.

    I like the idea of faster trains being a frequent traveller from the East Midlands to London but why is even more money being spent on rail projects in London than on the rest of the country!!!!! To stop overcrowding why not only put 1 1st class carriage on peak trains as most of the trains I catch the 3/4 1st class carriages have only enough people in to fill 1.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 399.

    "biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian era".

    Errr. you keep telling us that Labour left the country with now money. Shouldn't the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian era wait until the economy has recovered?

 

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