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Government announces £4.2bn rail investment

The government has announced an extra £4.2 billion investment in Britain’s rail network today, focused on the North of England, Wales and the Midlands

The new spending will bring the total spent on construction work on the railways to £9.4 billion, leading some to dub the investment programme the largest of in the country’s rail network since Victorian times, reported sister title Construction News.

The previously unannounced funding, for the 2014-2019 High Level Output Specification programme, is expected to be targeted at the Northern Hub of Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle, with additional projects in the Midlands and Wales.

On the BBC’s Today programme this morning, transport secretary Justine Greening claimed that ‘£5.2billion of this [total] was work that we’d already announced that we wanted to get along with, whether that’s trans-Pennine electrification, the northern hub, which was massively important’.

‘Obviously we’ve got Crossrail happening, Thameslink happening, all of that was already announced, what I’m announcing today is a further £4.2 billion that will be spent over that 2014-19 period and that will complement what we’ve already announced.’

‘It’s improving access to Heathrow, improving passenger services, making sure we’ve got all that in place. And I think a further piece of it that it’s easy to miss is investing in freight so we can get more off our roads and onto the rail.’

‘It’s about increasing capacity where we need it for the increased demand, as you say, a lot of it’s about electrification. This is cheaper trains that’ll be more cost-efficient to run, and it’s about investing in stations and track around the country so that we improve reliability and improve service too.’

New projects will include:

  • An ‘Electric Spine’ for passenger and freight traffic, linking the Midlands and Yorkshire with the South of England and electrifying the Midland Main Line.
  • Targeted electrification of the Great Western Main Line from Cardiff to Swansea, between Micklefield and Selby in Yorkshire and between Walsall and Rugely in the West Midlands.
  • £700 million for investment in capacity for commuters in London and the South East, with £400 million for other cities.
  • Great Western Main Line investment, including Bristol and Oxford stations, with additional track capacity on the Bristol approach.
  • £900 million in investment in smaller schemes.

The announcement comes after a week of sustained pressure in which the UK Contractor’s Group launched a campaign for greater investment in construction, with Kier chief executive Paul Sheffield giving details at last week’s Construction News Awards 2012.

Two leading conservative think tanks and the head of the Confederation of British Industry also came out last week against the coalition’s infrastructure plans.

Readers' comments (1)

  • chris Dyson

    great news and not soon enough we really need this level of investment to bring our country back on track to prosperity and growth.

    The other major project would be the estuary airport this would really help our infrastructure for the long run, heathrow simply can not be the answer we must facilitate growth by investing in major infrastructure projects such as this that are well considered with the talent and ambition to carry them out.

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