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More investment and fewer delays in Network Rail’s five-year plan

Amit Katwala

(Credit: iStock)
(Credit: iStock)

Network Rail has published its ambitious five-year plan to improve Britain’s railways from 2019 to 2024.

There will be record investment of up to £47bn, and a 25% increase in funding to reduce delays by 15% and improve infrastructure reliability. Additional capacity will be added to passenger routes, with 1,000 extra services a day on the cards by 2021.

“Passenger journeys will be transformed in the next few years as thousands of new trains enter service,” said Mark Carne, the chief executive of Network Rail. “By 2021 there will be almost 350,000 more services per year than today – an average of an extra 1,000 services a day, better connecting communities and driving economic growth across the country.”

However, there will be reduced spending on new big projects as the organisation focuses on maintaining its current assets – the former is falling by 33% as the latter rises by 25%. Particular areas of focus will be the TransPennine route between Leeds and Manchester, and routes out of London Waterloo towards the south of England.

Carne told the BBC the new funding period would be more focused on day-to-day operations. “The last five years has been about huge projects, like Thameslink, Crossrail, Great Western electrification and Edinburgh-Glasgow electrification,” he said. “The next control period is slightly different.”

Network Rail also announced what it calls “ambitious” targets for environment and employment – including reducing carbon emissions by 25%, and increasing the number of women on its staff by 50%.

Carne added that Network Rail, which runs the infrastructure of Britain’s railway network, will continue to implement new digital technologies and work closely with passenger and freight operators. “It is an ambitious but realistic plan that is not without challenge, but, with great people working together in great teams, it can deliver the better railway that a better Britain needs.”

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