Friday 26 May 2006

AMBITIOUS PLANS TO GROW THE RAILWAY IN THE SOUTH WEST RECEIVE APPROVAL

Region & Route:
| Wales & Western: Wales & Borders
| Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western
Rail passengers in the South West can look forward to benefiting from a host of improvements to their journeys within ten years after proposals to increase capacity were established this week. 60 days ago and following extensive consultation, Network Rail submitted to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) its recommended proposals to expand the current railway on routes from London Waterloo to Exeter. No letters of objection were received so the proposals have become the established strategy for the route. Network Rail route director David Pape said: “This the first route strategy Network Rail has done since the Government gave us this responsibility so we are delighted that our ambitious plans to grow rail traffic, and comfortably accommodate it on the South West Main Line, have been accepted by the ORR. “We began consulting on our ideas for the route in November and since then, have received valuable feedback and input from local councils, MPs, commuters and a number of other interested parties. Gaining this approval means that we now have a realistic plan of action for the South West Main Line that spans the next ten years and takes into account passenger and freight growth, major developments and the aspirations of local councils.” The South West Main Line Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) will be used to inform decisions made by industry funders and suppliers, such as those about franchise specifications or investment plans.  The RUS includes plans for longer passenger trains, a major redevelopment of Waterloo station, an hourly service between London Waterloo and Exeter and larger freight containers. The full document can be viewed at www.networkrail.co.uk/resourcelibrary.

Notes to editors

1. A draft strategy was issued for consultation in November 2005 and the final document sets out the best, most cost effective proposals to deliver growth and additional capacity along this key rail artery 2. Some of the proposals can be taken forward by the rail industry while others may need funding from other interested parties (for example, a Regional Development Agency, Transport for London, or the Department for Transport) before they can proceed 3. The strategy will also inform the invitation to tender for the south western franchise, which will be issued later this month, and the Department for Transport’s high level output specification for the next control period, which is being developed over the coming year

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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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