Tuesday 31 Mar 2009


Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western

Tomorrow marks the start of a new era for rail in Britain as Network Rail embarks on a £35bn programme of expenditure targeted at building a bigger and better railway.

The ambitious five year rail industry blueprint of investment includes plans for over 500 schemes and projects aimed at providing extra capacity or capability for passengers and freight customers with more seats, more trains, longer trains and faster trains.

The blueprint, called the CP4 Delivery Plan (CP4 is control period 4, 01 April 2009 to 31 March 2014) and its supporting documents runs to over 800 pages. It details the improvements to be made on the national rail system over the next five years, how train performance will increase to even higher record levels and how safety will also reach new highs.

Iain Coucher, chief executive said:"Britain is poised on the brink of a rail revolution. Tomorrow we embark upon one of the most exciting chapters in the history of our railways. Network Rail is ready to unleash the biggest expansion of Britain’s railways since the age of Brunel.

"The next five years will see massive investment in improving the railways for passengers and freight users by adding capacity and relieving overcrowding. We will see a transformed railway through ambitious plans that will deliver more trains, more seats, longer trains and faster trains.

"Services will be even more reliable, delays caused by the infrastructure will be cut by nearly 25% and we will embark upon an investment programme that is bigger and more ambitious than anything seen in generations.

"Delivering all this will require major change across the industry and we should not underestimate the scale and difficulties of the challenge that lies ahead."

Of the £35bn to be spent on Britain's railways over the next five years almost £12bn will be invested on projects designed to relieve overcrowding by lengthening platforms and increasing capacity and capability to enable more trains to run. £11.5bn will be invested in replacing older parts of the network (rail, signalling, bridges). A further £9.2bn will be spent on day-to-day maintenance and the costs of operating and running the network safely over the period, with a further £2.2bn on non-controllable operating expenditure.

Mr Coucher continued: "Stations will be transformed and new ones built. Speeds will be increased. Bottlenecks will be unblocked. Thousands of new trains will debut, services will run more frequently at weekends and at bank holidays. And all this while time keeping is ramped up, costs driven down and safety boosted."

"The last five years has been about putting right the ills of the railway - this has been achieved with train punctuality, passenger satisfaction and railway safety all at record levels and billions cut from the cost of running the railway. The next five years will be focused on doing the basics even better and delivering a bigger, better railway for passengers and freight."

Network Rail is committed to making even more trains run on time. By 2014 it is committed to record punctuality levels of 92.6% across England and Wales, and 92% in Scotland. This compares to just over 90% now and 78% at the time of Railtrack’s demise. Network Rail will also provide even better value for money for the British people – making savings of an extra 21% – on top of the 27% already achieved since 2004.

Network Rail's planning horizons extend far beyond the next five years and is looking up to 30 years ahead with detailed reviews already well underway into possible main-line electrification and the building of further high speed lines.

The next five years will also see Network Rail committing itself to furthering its environmental sustainability. With carbon emissions an ever growing cause for concern, Network Rail will champion the cause for rail – the most environmentally friendly form of mass transit.

Mr Coucher added: "Rail is the greenest way to travel, I think it's the greatest way to travel and I intend to champion the cause of rail in Britain over the years to come."

Notes to editors

- Network Rail is committed to record punctuality levels of 93% and 93.5% on the First Great Western and Arriva Train Wales’ network by 2014. This compares to just over 90% now on both network and on average 78% across the UK at the time of Railtrack’s demise. - The investments on the First Great Western and Arriva Train Wales network are set to cater for an extra 8bn (forecast estimate) passengers by 2013/2014. - Key initiatives that will help boost capability and capacity on the First Great Western and Arriva Train networks by 2014 include – 1. Reading re-modelling – to untangle the railway lines at Reading, leading to faster, more reliable train services across the Western network. New tracks and platforms will be added to improve train speeds, reduce delays and ease overcrowding. 2. Westerleigh Junction – Barnt Green line speed improvement – to reduce journey times and improve performance between the key business centres of Bristol and Birmingham. 3. Barry – Cardiff Queen Street Corridor – to facilitate the increase of south Wales valley line services from 12 trains per hour to 16 trains per hour through the central Cardiff corridor by 2014. 4. Cotswold line redoubling – to facilitate a robust hourly train service and reduces the impact of delays throughout the Thames Valley corridor to and from Paddington and reduces delays to north-south services via Oxford. 5. Cambrian line enhancement – to provide additional passing loops on the Cambrian line to facilitate an hourly service between Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth commenced in 2008. A state-of-the-art signalling system adopted widely by Europe will also be trialled on the line, delivering a more reliable service to passengers. - Network Rail is set to invest more than £1.5bn over the next five years to renew the railway infrastructure on the Western route (Wales and South West of England) to bring a more reliable service to passengers. These investments include buildings renewal at Exeter St. Davids, Pontypridd, Shrewsbury and track renewals at Pwllheli, Gobowen and Panteg. On top of that, approximately £4m will be invested in small schemes across the Western network to help cut delays and improve punctuality. - The Great Western Mainline has been identified as one of the eight priority routes on which seven day railway investment would deliver greatest benefits. DfT is also considering the Great Western Mainline for its electrification programme. - Over the next five years, Network Rail is commissioned by the DfT to develop, design and implement preparatory work on platforms and tracks to facilitate the introduction of Intercity Express trains on the Great Western Main line. - More than £150m will be invested nationally to improve station and car parks over the next five years. Working in conjunction with our customers, we have short-listed nearly 100 stations on the route for modernisation as part of this initiative. These stations include Newbury, Castle Cary, Exeter St. Davids, St Austell, Truro, Penzance, Slough, Didcot Parkway, Swindon, Gloucester, Cheltenham Spa, Chippenham, Severn Tunnel Junction, Cardiff Central, Pontyclun, Swansea, Port Talbot Parkay, Abergavenny, Shrewsbury, Carmarthen, Aberystwyth, Cardiff Central and Pontypridd. - Network Rail will be leading the environment agenda on the route by targeting the re-use of a total of 85% of the water removed from Severn tunnel by 2014. It will also be looking to set up a new track recycling centre at Westbury, which will become one of the four rail recycling hubs operated by Network Rail in the UK.

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About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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