- 11 updates
Network Rail Chief Executive, David Higgins has told ITV News' Business Editor Laura Kuenssberg that he "understands" the frustration from passengers over rising rail fare prices.
Network Rail have said that their new five year plan will deliver 20% more seats during peak morning hours into London.
London Tonight spoke to Tim Shoveller, Managing Director of Network Rail, about the problems they will have to confront whilst carrying out the building work.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of rail customer watchdog Passenger Focus, has said of Network Rail's expansion £37.5bn investment plan:
"Passengers will welcome the fact that Network Rail and train companies are working together on a plan to deliver passenger and Government priorities - more trains on time, and more seats.
"This work must be passenger-focused in the planning and delivery. Improvements in satisfaction are welcome, but we would like to see an earlier date for setting a satisfaction target.
"Passengers already put in roughly £2 for every pound spent by the taxpayer. It is critical that industry tackles its value-for- money offering, reducing costs without cutting services, to head off another five years of above-inflation fare increases."
The chief executive of the Office of Rail Regulation , Richard Price, has said Network Rail's expansion plan "demonstrates the company's ambition to deliver an even better railway for Britain".
Bob Crow, the general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union has responded to Network Rail's £37.5bn investment and expansion plans.
"While we support any plans to expand and invest in Britain's railways, you cannot seriously expect to safely increase capacity while at the same time the Government is looking to axe key frontline staff on trains, track and stations", he said.
He went on: "If the Government press on with the jobs cuts plans, they will simply be cramming more and more people into an overcrowded and unreliable service where safety is compromised and the profits of the private train operators are prioritised. That is simply a recipe for disaster."
The Network Rail plans come at a time of passenger anger at the above-inflation 4.2% season ticket average fare rises this month.
To be agreed with and approved by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), the NR plan envisages improvements that by 2019 will:
- See 225 million more passengers per year travelling and 355,000 more trains in service - the highest numbers ever;
- Provide 20% extra morning peak seats into central London and 32% into large regional cities in England and Wales;
- Provide 700 more trains a day linking key northern cities and a 10-minute reduction in journey time between Manchester and Leeds;
- See 30% more freight being carried than today;
- Cut CO2 emissions per passenger by 37% and reduce risk at level crossings by 8%;
- Plan a move away from more than 800 signal boxes to 14 major operations centres;
- Reduce the cost of running Britain's railways by a further 18% and cut annual public subsidy to between £2.6 billion and £2.9 billion in 2019 - down from £4.5 billion in 2009 and £7 billion in 2004.
In today's business plan, Network Rail said it expected to achieve a trains-on-time figure of 92.5% "by the end" of the period 2014-2019.
NR also warned that even with the extra trains and seats this would "not be enough" on the busy West Coast Main Line where the added capacity of the London to Birmingham HS2 high-speed rail line project was, it said, "essential".
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Certainly, Network Rail’s plan to upgrade the railways are ambitious. Certainly, they have a massive price tag of £37.5 billion.