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£38bn rail infrastructure investment plans unveiled

Network Rail’s five-year, £38bn spending and investment programme officially goes live tomorrow as CP5 begins.

Aimed at improving the country’s rail infrastructure, the five-year programme includes plans to renew tracks, expand capacity on trains, the electrification of 850 miles of railway line and making passenger safety improvements.

In particular, the project investment areas include renewingmore than 7,000km of track; improving train punctuality to 92.5% across the country; and investing in new technology and equipment to deliver step-changes in productivity and efficiency.

Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “Britain’s railways are a vital part of our national infrastructure. They connect homes and workplaces, businesses with markets, they create jobs, stimulate trade and support the growth of a balanced economy.

“We are good at delivering projects both great and small and at providing a safe and reliable railway but want to do even more for the people that rely on our railway network. This investment responds to the growth and demands being placed upon us by delivering bigger, better stations, more trains and seats, reopened railway lines and fewer level crossings. We all want an improving, safer, successful and better value railway for everyone, and that is what we will do.”

Currently, more than 1.5 billion passengers are made by rail each year, and this figure is expected to increase to never-before seen levels by 2019.

Major investment projects included in the proposal include the Northern Hub – aimed at transforming rail across the north of England with capacity for hundreds more trains and 44 million more passengers; the Thameslink programme - increasing to 24 trains per hour at peak times each way through the centre of London; and delivering over 850 miles of railway electrification including the Great Western Main Line, Midland Main Line and across the north and north west of England.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “A key part of this government's long-term economic plan is investing in world class infrastructure. That is why we are putting record amounts of government funding into our railways over the next five years. That investment will generate growth, create jobs and boost business while delivering faster journeys, greater comfort and better punctuality for passengers across the UK.”

Responding to the investment programme by Network Rail, Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport's chief executive, said it proves just how successful and important the UK’s railways are, but the focus must be on “value for money for the travelling public and not just the Treasury”.

Michael Roberts, director general of the Rail Delivery Group, which speaks on behalf of the rail industry, added that Network Rail and the operators of passenger and freight services are working together to maximise the benefits to the country as a whole.

Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) chief executive Richard Price stated that “ORR will be scrutinising progress closely to ensure plans for extra capacity, expanding and electrifying the railway, improving train punctuality, enhancing the resilience of our rail network to severe weather, closing level crossings and increasing workforce safety are effectively delivered.”

Success will make a massive difference, added Price.

Some of RTM’s other coverage of CP5 spending plans:

CP5 funding settlement agreed

Better, safer delivery: Network Rail procurement in Control Period 5

ORR offers rail savings compromise at £1.7bn for CP5 2014-19

Simon Kirby outlines CP5 procurement strategy

Network Rail’s £37.5bn spending plans for CP5

Civil frameworks awarded for CP5

Four contractors win places on £1.2bn Network Rail frameworks

Punctuality matters: raising the bar for CP5

ORR suggests cut of £2bn to Network Rail’s CP5 delivery plans

‘A supplier-dependent organisation’: Network Rail Infrastructure Projects and how it is changing

Four suppliers win big on £2bn electrification framework contracts

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