In a bid to see further growth and maintenance in the UK’s rail infrastructure, the Government have announced that the sector will see a major investment for the Statement of Funds Available (SoFA) over the Control Period 7, with the injection of £44bn worth of funding.
In a written statement to Parliament, Transport Secretary Mark Harper outlined the objectives and ambitions for this new batch of funding that will support the railways from April 2024 to March 2029. The £44bn of funding will be spent through Network Rail over the five-year period, with the new settlement allowing small increases in expenditure on Operations, Maintenance and Renewals (OMR) of the railway, as compared to that of CP6.
Speaking in the statement, Mr Harper said:
“The government fully recognises the critical role rail services played for business, key workers and our society during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the vital role they play in connecting communities and supporting economic growth.
“The high-level output specification makes it clear that the government will press ahead with rail reform, addressing the challenges facing the sector, such as fragmentation and outdated working practices, with a strong continued focus on operations, maintenance and renewal. This strong continued focus is important in supporting a safe, efficient and reliable railway for passengers and freight customers.”
To achieve these ambitions, it is not only key for the funding to be provided, but also for Network Rail to spend it in the right areas to maximise efficiency throughout the sector. With such a major injection of cash, the government will expect the infrastructure owner to develop detailed plans to deliver on these objectives, subject to the in-depth scrutiny by the Office of Rail and Road.
Commenting on the SoFA and HLOS, Railway Industry Association (RIA) Chief Executive, Darren Caplan, said:
“RIA welcomes this commitment from the UK Government, which - in difficult economic times - appears to mean Network Rail can continue maintaining and renewing the railway in CP7 with similar funding levels to todays. Rail suppliers will clearly play a significant role in working with Network Rail to ensure the programme of work is delivered in the five years from April 2024.”
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