Network rail shares new 44-billion pound five-year plan
Network Rail published its five-year plan for its English and Welsh railways. This 44.1-billion pound plan (50.9 billion euro) will be in place for the period of April 2024 to 2029. The plan will see increased investment in the fight against climate change, and improving train performance. It also pays special attention to passengers and freight.
After adjusting for changes in electricity costs, the budget is 1.8 billion pounds higher than the budget of the last five year plan, in effect between 2019 and 2024. Scotland’s plan will be published shortly. Network Rail’s chief executive Andrew Haines stated: “As we look to the next five years, the Government’s commitment to invest 44 billion in the operations, maintenance and renewal of England and Wales’s railway is a clear indication of the strong economic value rail brings to Britain.”
In December the Department for Transport (DfT) published their High Level Output Statement (HLOS) and a Statement of Funds Available (SoFA). Funding for enhancements to Network Rail’s railway is no longer included in this funding settlement, but the UK Government has already committed 96 billion pounds in the Integrated Rail Plan. A portion of these funds will be delivered in projects during the course of CP7.
Their plan for England and Wales is focused on delivering a more punctual and reliable railway, and improving passenger and freight customer experience. Network Rail begins by recognising the need to improve performance over the remainder of 2023-2024, and giving passengers and freight users the highest level of train performance possible in the 2024-2029 period. This will also involve renewing lifts and escalators, improving lighting and passenger information systems to improve personal security and safety.
To further improve safety and security NR plans to invest in technology and innovation such as installing equipment on trains which monitors infrastructure conditions remotely without needlessly sending employees onto the track. A planned 1.85 billion pounds will be invested in next-generation signalling to improve reliability and train performance
NR will be more than doubling investment, to the tune of 1.6 billion pounds, in tackling climate change. This includes investment in earthworks and drainage renewals, and improvements to capability such as the creation of dedicated earthworks and drainage teams, operational weather expertise, climate change adaptation strategy investment and continued investment in the Weather Risk Taskforce. Their plans also include investment in the reduction of emissions and targeted net-zero initiatives, focussing on meeting Government objectives for biodiversity, air quality and waste.
Economic growth and connectivity
NR’s plans encompass a comprehensive investment strategy in technology and research and development. These initiatives aim to pave the way for the implementation of significant projects such as the Transpennine Route Upgrade, as well as preparations for HS2 and other strategic investments nationwide. Additionally, NR is dedicated to bolstering the growth of rail freight by setting a realistic yet ambitious target of achieving a 7.5 per cent expansion across the network. Furthermore, the organisation is laying the groundwork for GBR, a crucial component in enhancing the railway’s efficiency by reintegrating track and train operations. This reformation will extend even further, enabling a more streamlined and superior railway experience for all passengers. Notably, NR is committed to optimising value for money by ensuring utmost financial prudence, with a targeted efficiency goal of 3.4 billion over the designated period.