UK railways to get £2.4 billion upgrade
Reuters: Apr 3, 2007
By Pete Harrison
LONDON - Britain's rail network operator, Network Rail, said on Tuesday it planned to spend 2.44 billion pounds over the next two years on improvements to ease overcrowding on trains.
"Hundreds of platforms will be lengthened, new platforms added, new tracks laid, line speeds raised and capacity added through major resignalling schemes," the rail infrastructure firm said in a statement, adding that there would be over 900 individual improvements.
A new 300-million-pounds line will be built over three years linking Glasgow and Edinburgh, and about 400 million pounds will be spent on infrastructure towards the 2012 Olympics in London.
"Three million people use the railways each day, more than at any time in the past 60 years," said Network Rail Chief Executive John Armitt. "We are doing something about it now by moving forward with hundreds of small schemes dotted around the country that will add capacity and ease crowding."
Network Rail said it was appointing Simon Kirby to a new post to oversee the work -- Director, Infrastructure Projects.
Armitt told Reuters the biggest chunk of the 400 million pounds of work on Olympics infrastructure between now and 2011 would be spent on increasing the capacity of the nearby Stratford station.
"Bridges in the area will have to be widened or demolished and replaced to make room and provide access to the Olympics site," he added.
The funding is already in place for 1.7 billion of work, he said, with the rest of the planned 2.4 billion to come from government, local authorities and freight companies.
The plans follow a government announcement last month that it would fund an extra 1,000 carriages for Britain's railways -- equivalent to around a tenth of the existing fleet.
The new rolling stock will be arriving at stations between 2009 and 2014 and will be targeted at the most congested routes.
Network Rail also plans to spend about 1 billion pounds in each of the next two years on routine maintenance.
This is the first time it will spend more on improvements than on maintenance, following years trying to overcome a backlog of work left over from the failed Railtrack Plc, which Network Rail replaced in 2002.
Network Rail plans £2.4bn investment
Times Online: April 3, 2007
Four days after rail operator was fined £4m for the Paddington disaster it plans upgrade of stations, lines and platforms
Network Rail today announced the biggest spending programme for Britain’s railways since privatisation with a £2.4 billion investment plan for the next two years.
John Armitt, the chief executive, said hundreds of station improvement and platform extension schemes would “add capacity and ease crowding” for millions of passengers.
Annual investment will more than double to £1.2 billion between 2007 and 2009 with more than £100 million earmarked for work linked to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The move comes just four days after Network Rail suffered its biggest ever fine, £4 million, for "systematic and unacceptable" safety failures that led to the 1999 Paddington rail disaster.
It was also criticised after the Virgin Rail crash in Cumbria two months ago. Network Rail's maintenance team was responsible for carrying out checks on the track where the Virgin's Pendolino train derailed.
Network Rail said the increased investment for the spending plans would come from existing funding and the £1 billion-worth of cost savings made in recent years.
Passengers will not face higher ticket prices to pay for the improvements.
The operator has cut costs by 25 per cent through job cuts, bringing maintenance in-house and buying kit directly from suppliers rather than going through contractors.
Mr Armitt said: “The railway is thriving. Demand for rail continues to grow and today’s news outlines Network Rail’s response to those demands.
“Three million people use the railways each day, more than at any time in the past 60 years, and we’re not standing still waiting for the big infrastructure projects to be delivered.
“We are doing something about it now by moving forward with hundreds of small schemes dotted around the countryside that will add capacity and ease crowding.”
Network Rail said a total of 900 schemes would get the go-ahead under today’s plans.
On top of the Olympic development, Network Rail will be spending £214 million on an new line between Airdrie and Bathgate in Scotland, and nearly £80 on a new Thameslink station at St Pancras International in London.
Network Rail signals switch in spending
The Sunday Times: April 1, 2007
NETWORK RAIL will reveal this week that it plans to spend more on improvements to the system over the next two years than on maintenance — the first time such a shift has taken place since the railways were privatised a decade ago.
In its business plan to be published on Tuesday the infrastructure company is expected to say it will spend about £2 billion on maintenance between now and April 2009, and slightly more than that on “enhancements” — work that will increase line capacity or speed. The enhancement money will be spent on new platforms, platform lengthening, station improvements, and, in one case, a new line.
This will be between Airdrie and Bathgate in Scotland for £300m, in effect creating an extra rail route between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The change in the balance of spending reflects a decline in Network Rail’s hefty maintenance programme.
It increased maintenance on the network when it took over from Railtrack in 2002, saying it needed to address a backlog of work. The legacy of Railtrack continues to dog Network Rail, however — on Friday it was fined £4m for the company’s role in the 1999 Ladbroke Grove rail crash that killed 31 people.
This week’s publication of its business plan, which covers only two years, will presage a much bigger debate on the future of the railway and its finances after 2009. In July, the government is expected to produce two papers that will set out what shape it expects the network to take, and how much it is prepared to spend on it.
Network Rail will respond with a five-year business plan (from 2009 to 2014) in October, with the Office of the Rail Regulator setting its spending limits next spring.
Meanwhile, Network Rail is also expected to announce this week it will not fill the role of deputy chief executive. The current holder of the post, Iain Coucher, will take over as chief executive from John Armitt in July.
Coucher will, however, create a new senior management post, director of infrastructure projects. It will be filled by former BAE executive Simon Kirby, who will take charge of enhancement and renewal projects.
Rail investment 1995-2009
Times Online: April 3, 2007
Enhancement Spend since privatisation
1995-1996: £202 million
1996-1997: £170 million
1997-1998: £182 million
1998-1999: £280 million
1999-2000: £388 million
2000-2001: £642 million
2001-2002: £806 million
2002-2003: £748 million
2003-2004: £770 million
2004-2005: £821 million
2005-2006: £473 million
2006-2007: £567 million
2007-2008: £1,031 million
2008-2009: £1,411 million
Record rail investment since pre-privatisation launched today
Builder & Engineer: 03 April 2007
Network Rail today unveiled a £2.4bn rail expansion programme.
Over the next two years hundreds of platforms will be lengthened, new platforms added, new tracks laid, line speeds raised as well as capacity added through major resignalling schemes.
The programme marks the greatest investment in the rail network since before the Thatcher government launched off on an agenda of privatisation.
Over the past 12 years, annual average spending on such schemes has been around £500m.
Network Rail will contribute £1.73bn of the total with the remaining £713m financed by other stakeholders.
Work is expected to start this month with completion due for March 2009.
Unveiling the plans, Network Rail chief executive, John Armitt, said: "The railway is thriving. Demand for rail continues to grow and today's news outlines Network Rail's response to those demands.
"Three million people use the railways each day, more than at any time in the past 60 years, and we're not standing still waiting for the big infrastructure projects to be delivered. We are doing something about it now by moving forward with hundreds of small schemes dotted around the country that will add capacity and ease crowding.
"For the first time on record, over £1bn per year will be spent on expanding and growing the railway network. This, more than anything, shows how the needs of today's railway are shifting. We will never lose sight of the imperative to run a safe and reliable railway each and every day, but responding to the challenge of growth becomes a more important priority for the company."