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Network Rail Unveils Ambitious £47bn Plan to Improve Britain’s Railway

Network Rail has published its ambitious five-year plan to improve Britain’s railway over the five years to 2024 (Control Period 6, CP6). The plan will drive economic growth, jobs and housing by delivering a better railway for the millions of people who rely on it.

The railway will be more reliable, more cost efficient, it will have more capacity, will build on its reputation as the safest railway in Europe and usher in the railway’s digital age.

Plan to Improve Britain’s Railway
Waterloo, August 2017 – 5 August © Network Rail

Five-Year Strategic Business Plan

The publication of the Strategic Business Plan (SBP) is a major milestone in the ongoing process to determine Network Rail’s funding requirements for the five years to 2024 (Control Period 6, CP6). The plan represents Network Rail’s initial, but detailed view, following the publication of Governments’ (England & Wales and Scotland) high level output specifications (HLOS) and statements of funds available (SoFA). The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) will now review the plan and make a draft determination of Network Rail’s funding needs in June, and a final determination in the autumn.

Mark Carne, chief executive, Network Rail, said:

“Passengers journeys will be transformed in the next few years as thousands of new trains enter service. By 2021 there will be almost 350,000 more services per year than today – an average of an extra 1,000 services a day, better connecting communities and driving economic growth across the country.

“This plan builds on these improvements and sets out how we will make the railway more reliable and cost efficient and how we accelerate the technological transformation of our railway into the digital age.

“We will continue our strategy to work more closely with train and freight operators, working together in partnership to continue to expand the network for the millions more who will want and need it in the years ahead.

“It is an ambitious, but realistic plan that is not without challenge, but with great people working together in great teams, it can deliver the better railway that a better Britain needs.”

It includes detailed route by route plans covering Network Rail’s planned expenditure on operations, maintenance and renewals, which represents a 25% increase on CP5 (the current five year funding period, 2014-2019). There is a further £10bn railway enhancement fund that the Government has made available for railway projects that maybe delivered by Network Rail or others.

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A More Reliable Railway

Improved reliability is a priority for passengers and for Network Rail. Working in partnership with train operating companies, the plan will deliver a 15% reduction in the number of delayed trains.

An Efficient Railway

Planned expenditure of up to £47 billion over the five year period, with a significant uplift (25%) earmarked for day-to-day improvements recognising the huge increase in the numbers of services and the extra wear and tear expected on the railway’s infrastructure as a result. The era of major ‘conventional’ resignalling – the basis of controlling train movements for the past 175 years – will begin to be phased out as this plan ushers in the start of the railway’s digital age with digital train control that will enable even more services to run, more safely and at lower cost.

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An Expanding Railway

Passenger numbers doubled in the last twenty years and are set to rise by around 40% by 2040. The investment in major projects in CP5 (2014-19) will see 6,400 more train services per week by 2021. Today’s plan contains investment in further projects to increase much needed capacity on our rail network, but many more will be developed on a case-by-case basis and once they are mature enough, be put before funders for a go/no-go decision. Other projects may require additional funding and plans are being developed to identify new sources of funding that do not rely on the taxpayer.

A Safer Railway

Network Rail’s hard won passenger safety record means it already runs the safest major railway in Europe. Today’s plan shows how the company will reduce the risk of a train accident by a further 10% through better inspection techniques and better asset management, as well as making further significant strides in workforce safety.

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The plan also contains some ambitious targets for the environment, for a better gender balance, and for the health and wellbeing of our workforce including:

  • Reducing energy consumption by 18%
  • Reducing carbon emissions by 25%
  • Reduce mental health absence by 30%
  • Increase the number of women employed by 50%

Mr Carne concluded:

“Britain’s railways have seen a revival over the past decade or so and we have been working flat-out over the last five years to build new stations and new infrastructure to enable thousands of more services to come on stream to soak up that demand. For the next five years we need to relentlessly focus on making our railway more reliable while also ushering in new digital technology that with help to transform our railway in the years ahead.”

Original article © Network Rail.

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