Network Rail has revealed a monumental, multi-billion-pound business plan from 2024-2029, for the North West and Central region, with passengers and freight customer benefits being the focal of the strategy.
This regional Strategic Business Plan (SBP) covers the overall activities, outputs and costs that are involved with the day-to-day maintenance, infrastructure renewals and operations of a running a railway.
This landmark announcement represents a major milestone in the process that determines the funding allocated to Network Rail for the upcoming Control Period 7 (CP7), which runs until 2029.
Acting as the economic spine of the UK’s rail sector, the North West and Central region provides vital connecting links to the country’s main cities of London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool, also providing key connections to Scotland.
This strategy will see three devolved ‘routes’ – West Coast South, Central and North West – collectively working in tandem with the local train operators and partners, focusing on the needs of passengers whilst working further with the regional and national railway network to ensure both passengers and freight goods can get to their destinations.
In the North West and Central region the main priorities over CP7 will be:
- An enhanced train performance with improve efficiency of operations, whilst being more cost-effective for the taxpayers. To ensure operations are smooth, major infrastructural investment will come to prevent delays that can be caused by adverse weather conditions, as shown by the historic heatwave last year.
- The environmental focus will ensure the railway is sustainable whilst remaining the greenest form of public transport. This will be achieved through the introduction of electric fleet vehicles and the deployment of the latest carbon-saving tech across the network of offices and maintenance depots.
- The growth that comes from expansion and enhancement to current infrastructure must come in a sustainable fashion, with plans involving investment into technologies and research projects that will facilitate the future introduction of other major projects into the network, including the likes of HS2 and the Transpennine Route Upgrade. Collectively, this will support the continued growth of the modal shift towards more prominent freight movement by rail, with a 7.5% growth target across the national network.
Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s North West and Central region managing director, said:
“Running a safe, green, and efficient railway on the West Coast and Chiltern main lines along with the Midlands, North West and Cumbria is crucial to the country’s economic success which is why our plan for CP7 is ambitious, focussed on our passengers and customers and reflects the current complexities and challenges facing the industry.
“Yet it’s not only about running the railway we already have, but making sure it works in harmony with the construction of the new zero-carbon railway HS2 which continues at pace, and also East West Rail with services due to start running on Phase 2 by December 2024. This will no doubt be challenging, but when complete will transform Britain’s railway – and this funding from Government means the North West and Central region will continue to be a foundation stone of these new rail routes for the future.”
This strategic business plan will now be subject to a review from the Office of Rail and Road, analysing how it will measure up against the Government’s HLOS (high-level output specification) and SoFA (statement of funds available). A draft determination will then be published later this year, which will include targets, measures, and incentives it will hold Network Rail to deliver over CP7.
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