CP5 funding sees Northern Hub completed
Katie Silvester takes a closer look at the HLOS announcement
A whopping £9bn of improvements in England and Wales are to get public funding during Control Period 5 (2014-19), the government has announced in its High Level Output Specification (HLOS ). This compares to £7.6bn of public funding in the current control period.
The main recipients of the funding will be projects already committed such as Crossrail, Thameslink and electrification of the Great Western. But additional projects have also been funded, including electrification of the Midland Main Line and electrification of the Great Western to Swansea – previously overhead electric cables had only been agreed as far as Cardiff.
Work towards the building of High Speed Two, the high speed line from London to Birmingham and beyond, will continue.
Transport secretary Justine Greening said: ‘Investment on this scale, in every region of the country, shows how this coalition government is focused on delivering an affordable, reliable and faster railway network that drives jobs and growth.
‘These plans to increase capacity and shorten journey times on intercity, commuter and freight services are, alongside our plans for high speed rail, absolutely key to securing our country’s prosperity in the decades ahead.’
Other work that has been approved includes the £350m lengthening of platforms at London Waterloo station, providing capacity for 120,000 more daily commutes in and out of London and 20,100 extra daily commutes to Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and other cities.
A new £500m rail link between the Great Western Main Line and Heathrow will facilitate direct services to the airport for passengers from the west country, the Thames Valley and Wales.
Funding was also confirmed for the Western section of East West Railway to be brought back to a state where it can be reopened, including electrification of the Oxford to Bedford part of the route. The Northern Hub will also be completed, with the approval of £322m of track and capacity upgrades across Manchester city centre, Manchester Airport and across to Liverpool, which had been suggested by Network Rail but not funded until now. On top of funding from taxpayers, other income expected to pay for the improvements will come from fare rises already announced in 2010, as well as borrowing against the long-term savings that projects like electrification are expected to have on the operating costs of the railways.
The rail industry welcomed the announcement. David Higgins, CEOCEOCEO of Network Rail, said: ‘The government has issued a strong vote of confidence in the railway, and in our ability to deliver sustainable economic growth through development of, and investment in, the network.
He added: ‘We do not underestimate the task laid down for us, but we will work alongside industry partners in the Rail Delivery Group to respond with a suitable plan. There are some tough targets, made even more challenging with the need to deliver record numbers of services on essentially Victorian infrastructure.’
Train operators also responded positively to the news.
Michael Roberts, CEO of the Association of Train Operating Companies said: ‘Extending electrification, completing the Northern Hub and tackling overcrowding into London will help more people to get to work faster and more reliably, making our towns and cities more attractive to businesses and spreading the benefits of economic activity across the country.
‘The planned investment will be paid for jointly by taxpayers and passengers. Train operators and Network Rail are committed to work with government to improve the efficiency of our industry, making every pound of investment go further and reducing the pressure on future fares levels.’
The Midland Main Line electrification will see the creation of an ‘electric spine’ running from Yorkshire and the West Midlands to south coast ports.
This is made up of an £800m electrification and upgrade from Sheffield – through Nottingham, Derby and Leicester – to Bedford, completing the full electrification of the Midland Main Line out of London St Pancras; and electrification of the lines from Nuneaton and Bedford to Oxford, Reading, Basingstoke and Southampton.
The East Coast Main Line will also benefit from £240m of improvements from the north east, through Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire to London.