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Network Rail publishes £38bn five-year spending plan

Network Rail has published its £38bn plans to upgrade its railway and stations over the next five years under control period 5, which starts tomorrow and runs until 2019.

Of the £38bn to be spent on Britain’s railways over the next five years, £13bn will be invested in capital expenditure projects to relieve overcrowding by building new tracks, uncorking bottlenecks, increasing capacity and upgrading outdated stations.

In addition to this capital expenditure, £12bn will be invested in replacing and renewing older parts of the network.

Over the period Network Rail aims to reduce the cost of running the railway by 20 per cent on top of the 15 per cent reduction achieved in the last five years, it said.

Projects including the Thameslink programme and the Birmingham New Street development as well as the main line electrification in Wales and the West Country will be completed over the period.

Stations including Birmingham New Street, Manchester Victoria, Glasgow Queen Street and London Bridge will be transformed.

Day-to-day targets

Investment in Network Rail’s day-to-day projects will include:

  • Renewing over 7,000km of track – enough to reach from London to Mumbai
  • 75 football pitches worth of station platforms replaced (300,000 sq m)
  • Improving train punctuality to 92.5 per cent across the country - the best performing in Europe
  • Cutting the cost of running the British railway network by 20 per cent making it one of the most efficient in Europe
  • Investing in new technology and equipment that will deliver step-changes in productivity and efficiency

Network Rail said 225 million passengers will travel on its network by 2019, with 170,000 more seats available for commuters.   

Chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander added:  “After years of neglect, the UK’s energy, road, rail, flood defence, communications and water infrastructure needs renewal, and as I set out in December, you name it, this government is building it.”

Director of external affairs for the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Alasdair Reisner said: “Network Rail’s spending plans are commensurate to the task in hand of renewing the UK’s railways. It is predicted that demand for rail services are to grow by more than 30 per cent in the next ten years, and already more people are using our railways than ever before.

“The cost of the UK having infrastructure which fell short of our competitors was £78bn every year in the last decade, and this infrastructure deficit will grow unless we bring UK infrastructure up to the standard of other developed economies.”

Dawlish repairs draw to a close

Network Rail has confirmed that it will reopen lines affected by the landslip in Dawlish on 4 April.

The lines will be reconnected to Britain’s network after two months of work by railway engineers in, and around, Dawlish

Around 20,000 tonnes of cliff-face collapsed near Teignmouth on 4 March and had threatened the planned opening.

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said: “Dawlish has shown us at our best when we work in a planned, disciplined and innovative way. Our aim is to emulate that approach and embed it in our organisation so that we are continuously improving the service for our customers.”


1. Everyone home safe every day

Focus on improving passenger, public and workforce safety, and engage local communities about level crossings

2. Investing in our people

Developing railway for the public.

3. Maintaining and building reliable infrastructure

Work with industry partners to deliver more effectively, more efficiently and more safely.

4. Reliable timetables

Transform the timetabling process to make best use of the capacity that we have to avoid delays.

5. The biggest investment programme since the Victorian era

Timeline of improvements over the past five years and in the coming five years and what they will mean all over the country.

6. A technology enabled future

Data and equipment that will help change maintenance methods.

7. A railway fit for the future

Response to the impact of climate change on the network.

8. A customer-focused organisation

Working with the rest of the industry to deliver the best service for passengers.

9. Opening up

Communicate any delays that do occur better and faster to passengers.

10. Reducing public subsidy

Increased efficiency will feed through to less dependence on government funding

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