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Monday, July 15, 2024

Rail plan launched by industry leaders

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In a comprehensive display of unity, rail industry leaders have outlined strategies to take forward £37 billion worth of investment, stressing a commitment to cut costs and a determination to work together.

Says Jeremy Candfield, director-general, Railway Industry Association, ‘This plan is not more of the same; it marks a shift to a fundamentally different railway. Suppliers are working with the other industry parties to seek to ensure that it is delivered as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.’

The plan takes forward delivery of government transport proposals outlined last summer and covering CP5 – Control Period Five, 2014-19. The plan aims to double capacity for passengers, attract more freight and make the railway more reliable and customer friendly.

£200m investment in the Strategic Freight Network will accommodate expected  growth of 30% in rail freight tonnage by 2019.

Many of the projects are familiar to railway staff.

The plan takes forward electrification of over 850 miles of railway including the Great Western and Midland Main Lines, the Cardiff Valley lines and the Glasgow – Edinburgh route. The Northern Hub goes ahead as does the East West Railway connecting  Oxford – Bletchley – Bedford.

Future-proof railway infrastructure

The plan also recognises the need to future-proof railway infrastructure against bizarre weather including heat waves, cold snaps and flooding.

Says David Higgins, Network Rail chief executive, ‘One million more trains run every year than ten 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.

‘Successive governments have made this possible by looking beyond the short term and recognising the critical importance of the railway to Britain’s future. 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.’

Minsters have been encouraged by the Paisley Canal Electrification project which saw ScotRail waiving compensation claims boosting the speed of the project and substantially lowering costs.

Says Tim O’Toole, chairman of the Rail Delivery Group, ‘We are moving forward together as an industry, which is a significant development.’

Higgins underscored the value of working together. ‘As an industry we have achieved a huge amount and we are already seeing the benefit of working more closely together with our customers and suppliers and that must remain at the heart of everything we do.

‘Our aim is to be a trusted leader in the industry as we work to build a better railway for a better Britain.’

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