£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
    +2

    Comment number 558.

    Pfff! Another bit of navel fluff put forward as a policy. Total disregard for high petrol prices, and all the other increases/cuts folk are expected to deal with. Men playing with trains no less. What about the NHS? Couldn’t it have done with a £9.4bn boost? Too sensible.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 557.

    Why not have more loco-hauled trains like Chiltern Railways? At least they're more comfortable that all these dmus with cramped seating and underfloor engines. The MK3 HST trailers could be converted as loco-hauled stock to run with new electric locos Class 93 maybe?
    550.Bruckner00to9
    Also what of extra pantograph cars in dmus Classes 185, 220 & 221; and will the MML 222s gain such an extra car?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 556.

    554.Billythefirst - No, no profit, it borrows vast amounts at the govenments instructions, has debts of £B and pretends to make an "Operating Profit". But it's a not-for-dividend company so there are no shareholders to take anything away from the investment made.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 555.

    I can't afford to travel by train, so this won't make any difference to me. I'll carry on taking my car, as it is a lot cheaper.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 554.

    532.HooHum - Yes, you are mistaken. This investment is in Network Rail not a private train operator
    ------
    It's an artificial entity that makes a subsidised 'profit'.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 553.

    Seems to be a completely random decision to electrify the line up to Sheffield.

    Surely there are more deserving areas which would benefit from rail improvement?

    What was that? Nick Clegg is a Sheffield MP? No....it couldn't be just because of that? Could it?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 552.

    It's no good complaining about the cost of fares. The trains are mostly fast, mostly clean, mostly on time and mostly full with people who are obviously willing to pay the fare for a decent service.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 551.

    Waste of money!,Talk about getting your priorities right! 9billion on trains pft! and stuff the funding for schools because after all trains are more important then the education of our children (OUR furture debt TAX payers dont forget!) no wonder this dump of country is in such a mess!
    (link below about schools fundings)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-18827591

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 550.

    Like the idea, but what of the "missing link" - Sheffield to Doncaster is a MUST for the wires - for passengers to Leeds, stock to Neville Hill for maintenance & a diversion loop. Also what of extra pantograph cars in dmus Classes 185, 220 & 221; and will the MML 222s gain such an extra car?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 549.

    "Trains are a rich man's toy" admits Philip Hammond
    Transport Secretary,13 Sep 2011
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-14904610

    Enough said

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 548.

    So Mr Cameron has given approval for mainline electrification, I thought we had a deficit 'left over from the last Labour government' to 'repay'. Where's the money coming from Mr Cameron? No doubt this is another cynical ploy to win over voters in time for a snap election should the Fib-Dems leave the coalition? Pity this wasn't done 30 years ago when BR were crying out for investment.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 547.

    I agree with hoohum. If the system isn't working that way then it should be, that's how private companies operate. Either the private sector can run the service and make profit or it can't. If it's not viable in private hands then it shouldn't have left public ownership. It's not for the taxpayer to fund private profit, that smells like using the taxpayer to line the pockets of others doesn't it?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 546.

    £9.4Bn eh? You could almost have a fortnight of instantly forgettable sporting jamboree in Stratford for that!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 545.

    542 Yep no matter the fact that state spending in real terms has increased massively in the last 10 years. Britain's primary & secondary education remains dreadful and in terms of OECD standards towards the bottom (21 out of 34). Spend ever more and might just get to 22nd.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 544.

    These projects are not new but have been discussed in the Railway Press for years, and we knew we would get them one day. What we wanted was start-dates but I can't really see any of them in the briefings.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 543.

    522. RichE
    ...Worst performing companies? The ones now under state ownership, nationalisation doesn't work for the traveller.
    __
    It need not be like that. The Finnish State Railway offers a thousand kilometre round trip for less than a hundred pounds, pensioners and students half price, with a population of only five million to pay for the system. It's modern, it's fast, it's efficient.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 542.

    Smooth move Cameron! Talk about getting your priorities right! 9billion on trains and stuff the poor end schools and childrens education! that needs money! scum bags!
    (link below about schools fundings)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-18827591

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 541.

    This is welcome news about rail electrification.

    Although my line is one of those being wired up, I don't think the benefits will be that great and I'd much prefer the government to use the money to pay down the deficit instead.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 540.

    529.Jatinga - We are members of the EU, all large contracts must follow EU rules and guidance and must be open to all member states.
    528.Adda - This announcement makes no difference at all to HS2.
    532.HooHum - Yes, you are mistaken. This investment is in Network Rail not a private train operator. Please see 530.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 539.

    using the train is a rich boys game, just like watching the olympics and prem league football, being skint is where im at so to hell with it all.I reckon, this bunch of crooks, who run the system in the uk, would tax fresh air if they could get away with it.

 

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