Midland Main Line electrification to go ahead
Midland Main Line electrification, GWML electrification to Swansea and not just Cardiff, the Northern Hub, ECML upgrades and further investment in rail freight at ports are all to go ahead and will be confirmed in the upcoming HLOS, according to reports tonight.
The Government has suggested that the total value of capital investment in CP5 will be around £10bn, with Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg set to announce the news as part of a co-ordinated effort to show the Coalition is prepared to invest in infrastructure.
Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, welcomed the news as, with HS2, heralding the largest investment in the railways since the Victorian era - but warned that the planned RPI +3% fare rises would alienate passengers.
Overall capital spending in CP5 (2014-19) is likely to be lower than it has been in CP4 (2009-14), due both to lower Government spending overall, and the high-priority projects in the current spending period.
Some of Network Rail's most senior figures have named Midland Main Line electrification as a top priority for CP5, and campaigners and businesses in the East Midlands especially have put together compelling arguments as to why it should go ahead sooner rather than later.
Network Rail's programme sponsor for electrification in the North West, David Golding, told Infrarail 2012 that MML electrification should pay for itself, due to reduced operating costs from electric stock. As reported in RTM's June/July edition, he said: "This would see electrification from Bedford through to Sheffield, via Derby, and Nottingham and Corby, with a significant cut in carbon emissions. Looking at the financial impact of these schemes, this would see the cost of running the route reduced by £30m each year.
"We believe this scheme still to be financially positive: in other words, we believe the cost of paying for the work, over a number of years, would be more than offset by the savings in operating the railway year-on-year."
Network Rail insiders have previously suggested that should MML electrification go ahead, construction work would be likely to take place towards the end of CP5.
Campaigners have long been keen to see faster, more frequent, smoother, lower-carbon trains running on the route, from London St Pancras to Sheffield.
Cardiff Valleys electrification is also thought to be included in the HLOS - though there has been no word on the Gospel Oak to Barkling line, nor other potential in-fill electrification schemes.
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