Latest Rail News

17.03.16

Devolution deals commit station refurbs, new links and extra cash

A series of devolution agreements announced yesterday during the chancellor’s Budget include key elements of rail reform, including money allocated to station refurbs, track improvement and new links.

In Cardiff, a new £1.2bn city deal, of which the UK government has committed £500m, will help support the electrification of the Valley Line railways, a “central part of the ambitious Metro project” in the region.

According to Wales Online, some £734m has been allocated to the Metro project, which will be used both across electrification works and on future stages of the scheme, including the possibility of a new line from the centre of Cardiff to Cardiff Bay, new stations and expanding the core network.

In the south east, £7m will be earmarked to improve rail station facilities at Redhill, Newbury and High Wycombe. To the west, a new West of England £900m devolution package will bring in £5m of development funding to improve resilience on the Dawlish rail line, as well as a devolved transport budget for the region.

“The government will support the interim report of the Peninsula Rail Task Force by investing an additional £5m in developing options to improve the resilience of the rail line between Newton Abbot and Exeter via Dawlish,” the Budget report said.

“The government will fully consider the recommendations in the Peninsula Rail Task Force’s final report when it is published in June.”

Another £3m will also be used in the south west to improve existing rail station facilities.

In the east, a similar East Anglia £900m deal will also include a devolved transport budget and £5m to redevelop St Albans City station.

A third and smaller £450m devolution deal in Greater Lincolnshire will include a devolved transport budget.

There are plans in place to establish Midlands Connect as a statutory sub-national transport body with statutory duties by the end of 2018, shortly after Transport for the North.

Overall, £16m will be allocated to improve rail station facilities nationwide, including Market Harborough, St Albans, Redhill, Newbury, High Wycombe, Exeter St Davids, Weston-Super-Mare, and Cheltenham Spa.

HS3 and Crossrail 2

Importantly, chancellor George Osborne also formally gave the green light to recommendations of the National Infrastructure Commission, including earmarking cash for HS3.          

Part of this includes a £300m of further investment in transport across the north, including £60m to enable the preparatory steps of HS3 between Leeds and Manchester and other major city rail links.

The report added: “To take forward the commission’s recommendations, the government will allocate a further £4m to support the development of HS2 Growth Strategies for Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Airport and Leeds stations… as part of an integrated long-term plan for HS3.”

In the report’s ‘Northern Powerhouse timeline’, the National College of High Speed Rail in Doncaster is still promised for a 2017-18 opening, and “comprehensive upgrades” to the TransPennine rail route paving the way for HS3 is set to start in 2018-19.

In London, Crossrail 2 will receive £80m, with Transport for London asked to match that contribution to ensure the project “can be fully developed with the aim of depositing a hybrid bill within this Parliament”.

(Top image: Osborne delivering Budget statement, c. PA Wire)

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