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  1. ITV Report

How will major rail investment affect our region?

A major investment plan has been announced for the UK's rail network Photo: ITV Meridian

Spending in our region:

Thames Valley - £7 billion

Sussex and Kent - 2.3 billion

Wessex (Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey and Wiltshire) £1.2 billion

Schemes in Detail:

WESSEX

Driven by a huge growth in demand, which has seen a 50 per cent increase in passengers over the past 10 years, the Network Rail/South West Trains Alliance is investing more than £1.2bn in the rail network connecting Waterloo to Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire and beyond between now and 2019. This will form part of a wider programme to deliver an extra 115,000 seats a day into the capital by 2019 – an increase of 20 per cent.

Increasing capacity into Waterloo station is the Alliance’s focus over the next five years, creating space for more trains, and more room for passengers travelling to and from Britain’s busiest station. This work will include lengthening the remaining eight-car platforms at the terminus and bringing the former international terminal back into use.

Managing director of the Alliance, Tim Shoveller, said: “The growth we are managing now is phenomenal - more than 95m passengers at Waterloo with us every year – there is a clear need to improve the railway in the area.

“Improving Waterloo is a key part of our strategic plan and it will benefit passengers across our network, not just in London. In the next five years we are delivering longer trains between Reading, Ascot and Waterloo, 10-car trains throughout our suburban network.To do this, we need to upgrade the power supply and extend a number of platforms to cope with the extra demand. We also will run additional capacity on some of our main line routes.

“We are also working on plans to improve the resilience of the railway to extreme weather and renewing our focus on safety. While we are the safest railway of our size in Europe, we are not complacent – particularly when it comes to level crossings and the safety of our workforce.

“The next five years will make a huge difference to everyone who travels by train and we are committed to delivering a better, safer, more reliable railway for them.”

Along with longer trains and platforms, the Network Rail/South West Trains Alliance will begin the process of bringing control of the network into a new £50m purpose-built route operating centre in Basingstoke, replacing old signalling systems and offering a more reliable railway with better real-time information for passengers. In addition, a comprehensive renewals programme will continue to upgrade and improve the infrastructure of the railway.

THAMES VALLEY

Western Hub – A £700m investment programme to improve connectivity, boost performance and introduce 3,200 more seats during peak hours through Bristol. It involves 31 individual projects, including amongst others electrification, four-tracking of Filton Bank, track remodelling at Bristol East junction, new platforms at Bristol Parkway and upgrading Bristol Temple Meads station.

Oxford - The portfolio of investment in the Oxford area will improve capacity and capability through the core Oxford Corridor (Didcot North Junction - Aynho Junction), to cater for growth in passenger and freight services on the key strategic link connecting the South Coast ports to the West Midlands and Scotland. The scheme also enables rail services in to Oxford from London-Marylebone and supports the introduction of East West Rail.

Electrification – The GWML from Paddington to Bristol, Oxford and Newbury is to be electrified by 2016-17, which will allow the introduction of new Intercity Express Programme: Super Express Trains. These trains will have 20% more seats and their faster acceleration and deceleration will lead to journey time reductions of up to 22 minutes.

Crossrail - The new high density service between Reading to Maidenhead and Heathrow Airport, and east London, via the West End and City of London, will run from December 2019. This will reduce crowding on the eastern stretch of Western route beyond Maidenhead by 30%.

Heathrow western rail access – The creation of a rail link between Heathrow and the GWML, via Slough and Reading, would deliver fast direct services to the UK’s largest airport and present longer-term opportunities to link with high speed services from 2021.

Paddington station improvement – Reconfiguring the approaches of Paddington station to create more rooms for more trains into the station at peak times by 2019.

KENT

Passengers further afield in Kent will also see some major changes, including the £147m project to replace signalling on the railway around the Medway Towns.

This will include the construction of a new Rochester station, allowing 12-car trains to call there for the first time, and a new platform at Rainham.

Other investment programmes in the next five years include a £10m line speed improvement scheme to the Ramsgate to Ashford route, a new station for Kidbrooke in south east London, upgrades of the railway power supply to cope with extra and more powerful trains, along with the continuing programme to improve stations, including Maidstone East and Strood.

SUSSEX

Passengers in Sussex will also see some major changes, including the construction of an extra platform at Redhill, to increase capacity at the station, improving signalling on the Brighton Main Line near Balcombe to increase flexibility, and platform lengthening on the line to Uckfield to allow longer trains to run.

Other investment programmes for the county in the next five years will include improving the concourse at Victoria station to give passengers more room, upgrading the power supply to improve reliability and allow for increased services, bringing 50 per cent of all signalling in the county into a new control centre, and a linespeed improvement scheme from Hastings to Ashford. There will also be a rolling programme of station upgrades and improvements.

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