Railway expansion plan revealed

A £37.5 billion plan to run and expand the railways in the period 2014-19 was unveiled today by Network Rail (NR).

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Network Rail work 'must be passenger-focused'

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.

Network Rail have unveiled a five-year expansion plan

"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."

TSSA: Passengers should not pay for new lines

We obviously back rail investment to improve the service but passengers have already suffered enough pain with a decade of annual inflation-plus fare increases.

They should not now be expected to face another six years of even higher fares. No one expects motorists to pay more for new roads or air passengers to pay for new runways. Well rail passengers should not be singled out to pay for new lines.

They have been persecuted enough already.

– Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union

Office of Rail Regulation to 'scrutinise' Network Rail plan

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".

He added:

Key to maintaining rail's success will be openly justifying this significant commitment of public money. Taxpayers significantly fund the railways, and have every right see where this money is being spent.

ORR will now scrutinise the plan on behalf of rail users and taxpayers to ensure every penny is made to count and that all those involved in delivering the plan work together to achieve the highest levels of efficiency and best possible value for money.

Our analysis, informed by public views, will focus on ensuring NR delivers the right plans, in the right ways, at the right cost.


RMT: Safety and preventing job cuts should be a priority

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.

Bob Crow says safety and preventing job cuts should be a priority

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."

Network Rail facing 'bigger and more complex' challenges

One million more trains run every year than 10 years ago, more passengers arrive on time than ever before, our safety record is one of the best in Europe and, despite the daily challenges we face, customer satisfaction is at record levels.

As our railway gets busier the challenges get bigger and more complex. We have entered an era of trade-offs.

Increasingly we have to balance the need to build more infrastructure, run trains on time and cut costs, and in many areas choices will need to be made.

– David Higgins, Network Rail chief executive

Network Rail expansion plan in detail

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.

Network Rail: HS2 'essential' to expansion plan

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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