£9bn railway investment announced by coalition

 

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

Related Stories

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.

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 478.

    nothing for the SW, what a surprise. Plymouth to London over 3h, 5h from Penzance. Plymouth to Penzance 2h (its 80 miles!) Plymouth to Exeter over an hour (its 45 mins by road) Railtrack falling in to the sea at Dawlish, but hey its only the SW somewhere to go on your holidays so it doesn't matter

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 477.

    How much of this is new money and how much is a re-announcement of previous spending ?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 476.

    A policy brought in by the last government, added to by this government, to be carried out by the next government.
    No rush then.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 475.

    218 Of course they were, that was the legacy of decades of almost negligible investment - all to save pennies, whilst of course increasing the running costs and eventual costs of replacements. People forget once you build something , you have to maintain it or it degrades. We had decades of degradation, it is taking decades to put right.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 474.

    338.cemhlm


    That's precisely why more investment is needed....

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 473.

    some Keynsian infrastructure spending at last - six years too late and patient may already be dead by then but better late than never.

  • rate this
    +15

    Comment number 472.

    By all means improve the network: knock yourself out boys, it won't make any difference to me what you do: I, an OAP, was priced out of rail travel some years ago and I don't anticipate travelling by rail ever again.

    I urge the abandonment of the present lunatic pricing structure in favour of an imposed price per mile, with the cost of tickets calculated on distance travelled. Too simple?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 471.

    344.BluesBerry

    "There'll be a lot of steam if railway electrification is pushed beyond 2015 election date. . ."

    And let's hope that the steam is coming out of the chimney of a Gresley Pacific or a Coronation Scot. They're already threatening to downgrade the ECML even further with Pendolinos courtesy of French conglomerate Althom. . .

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 470.

    Come on Labour. Show some strength in your convictions.
    Either say you'll Nationalise the railways, or commit to keeping them Private.
    If you want to get back into power let's hear a policy.

    Then tell us how you are going to pay for it.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 469.

    In principle, investing in rail networks is a great idea. But if the cost has to be offset by higher fares, then it isn't. I would rather get the train the drive, but invariably these days I drive because it's cheaper (even with the scandalous petrol prices). You won't get people off the roads and onto the rail if it's not cost effect for them.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 468.

    If we'd swerved the Olympics we could have done this without jacking up fares.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 467.

    the only way it will close the gap is everybody start traveling by rail,still the southern house collectors will have a rail service to get them to there cottages for a weekend break,bless.suppose you can get the desperate northern work force to commute to all the new factorys opening in the south east.desperate times desperate people.then there is the chance of a revolution?nah, i don't think so

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 466.

    Germany built autobahns in the 1930's to help get them out of depression.

    Will we build railways?

    If so start tomorrow not in four years time!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 465.

    All nice but like always there is a catch, yep its spread over the years between 2014-2020 , lol by then we will need even more investment plus the coalition probably won't be in power by then. Just a waste of time,the work needs to start now.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 464.

    Now where did I hear the words "It's about getting people and frieght off the rail and on to the roads"? Hmmm! Was that a certain Dr Beeching?
    RIP the heck out of the then excellent rail infrastructure and now a complete about face!
    Politicians! Who needs them?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 463.

    Does this include the link between Derby and Nottingham??

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 462.

    447.Waspsnest - You don't understand Rail Privatisation, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_Rail

    455.callisto - This does not affect HS 2, it's still going ahead.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 461.

    mess 416
    "It`s not the industry that`s wrong, it`s the passengers"

    I agree Sue, passengers can be unthinking; an inspector or conductor would be handy on busy trains, to make sure things run smoothly, safely, and to get the most efficient use of the space.
    It would provide a job for someone too.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 460.

    Why on earth are lines like Rugeley to Walsall and Oxford to Milton Keynes being electrified when Sheffield to Wakefield and Doncaster is being left as a gap in the cross county electrified network?

    And why only extend the wires from Leeds to Selby? Why not all the way to Hull?

    Very little logic has been applied to this.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 459.

    @324 sunny

    Ah yes - nothing at all. No free University places, no free care for the elderly, no free prescriptions. You're so hard done by my heart bleeds.

 

Page 14 of 37

 

More UK stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.