Latest Rail News

02.12.11

Infrastructure investment welcomed

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has welcomed the Government’s support for the Northern Line extension to Battersea – although no funding has been secured at this stage.

He praised the commitment to London’s infrastructure announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, such as the creation of new stations at Vauxhall and Nine Elms, and also welcomed the money to reduce rail fare increases.

The rail infrastructure measures announced in the Autumn Statement could help deliver an estimated 16,000 new homes and 25,000 new jobs in the capital.

Johnson said yesterday: “Maintaining London’s position as the motor of the UK economy will return huge revenues to the exchequer that will benefit the whole UK for years to come.

“Most importantly it further unlocks the massive potential of two long neglected areas of the capital in Nine Elms and east London, creating desperately needed jobs and apprenticeships and improving the lives of the thousands of Londoners.”

Rail companies and organisations have also responded to the announcement of the Infrastructure Plan, which covers £30bn investment into 500 projects on road and rail, as well as focusing on 35 top priority projects.

These include a £4m upgrade for the Newcastle Metro, £290m to electrify the TransPennine route between Manchester and Leeds to cut journey times and £270m for an east-west rail link between Oxford and Bedford.

Bridge renewals will be allocated £290m funding, £45m will extend the Oyster scheme in London and £80m will be spent on the procurement process for 130 new carriages for trains in South London.

May Gurney welcomed the investment, but warned that existing infrastructure must continue to be maintained. A spokesman stated: “While this money will help build new projects, having a strategic vision for maintaining existing infrastructure is equally vital.

“While the new investment announced by the Government will create jobs and help drive economic growth, allowing local authorities to seek similar private sector investment to improve and maintain existing infrastructure would be equally valuable in helping keep UK businesses and residents moving.”

Chancellor George Osborne also announced that fare rises in 2012 would be RPI+1%, instead of the planned RPI+3%. This announcement caught the TOCs off-guard – and highlighted the power of the Treasury. ATOC chief executive Michael Roberts called it a “positive decision”, but also sounded a note of caution, saying: “Train companies are working hard to ensure that the change can be implemented in time for the new year.”

London TravelWatch welcomed this news. The chair, Sharon Grant, said: “At a time of increasing pressure on household budgets, it’s very good news that expected fare increases are to be curbed. Passengers tell us though that they still feel that the fares they pay are not good value for money. So even with this smaller increase, we still look to operators to improve their service offerings.”

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