Business & Entrepreneurs Transport

New rail plan worth billions to economy

By Sarah Edwards at

A landmark plan announced today, sees train companies, Network Rail and suppliers launch ‘In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity’ a single, long -term plan for a changing and improving railway.
The plan sets out how Britain’s public and private ‘partnership railway’ will secure almost £85bn of extra economic benefits to the country and enable further improvements, and launches as a poll of South East business leaders shows 57% think rail will be key to attracting inward investment after the UK leaves the EU.
The plan is supported by business and passenger groups and makes four commitments for change to improve and deliver for the economy, customers, communities and staff working in rail. It also sets out four commitments to build on the railway’s progress of the last 20 years.

These include a commitment to support the economy nationally and to boost communities locally through investment to improve services. A poll of business leaders in the South East published yesterday shows that more than four out of five (84%) believe that combined investment from both the public and private sectors in the railway is key for the future growth of the UK’s economy. Over half (57%) say rail will be key to attracting inward investment into the UK’s as it leaves the European Union.

The full commitments being made by rail companies in the South East and across the country are:

• Commitment 1 – Strengthen the railway’s contribution to the economy, keeping running costs in the black, freeing up taxpayers’ money;
• Commitment 2 – Increase customer satisfaction by improving the railway to remain the top-rated major railway in Europe; • Commitment 3 – Boost local communities through localised decision making and investment; • Commitment 4 – Create more jobs, increase diversity and provide our employees with rewarding careers.

Securing the economic benefits of the public and private partnership will mean that:

• In the next 18 months alone, customers and communities across the country will see a transformation in their railway with more trains, better services and improved stations; • Investment into rail of £50bn will help to deliver 5,700 new carriages on track by 2021 and 6,400 additional services per week; • Customer journeys will be improved using technology to increase capacity by running trains closer together, to improve information to help passengers during disruption, and to make buying and using tickets quicker and easier; • Improved services and greater confidence for customers with the introduction of a new Independent Railway Ombudsman, by Summer 2018, ruling on unresolved complaints. • A stronger voice for customers in England and Wales with customer representation on joint supervisory boards, or an equivalent – a partnership between the rail industry and customer groups; • Staff will benefit with 100,000 job opportunities, £1bn investment the creation of 20,000 new apprenticeships in rail and its supply chain by 2020 and doubling the number of higher level apprenticeships every five years.

Dave Penney, Managing Director of Chiltern Railways, said: “Rail is a vital part of Oxfordshire’s economy, and this plan will help to unlock a better, more modern railway that will benefit customers, businesses and communities now and for the years ahead. Over the next 18 months alone, our investment plans will mean more trains, running more punctually, with value for-money tickets that are easier to buy and use, and better information at people’s fingertips when things do go wrong. A growing railway means more jobs and we are improving the ways in which we can recruit skilled and talented people to deliver the safe, friendly and efficient service our customers demand.”
Andy Cooper, Managing Director of CrossCountry, said: “With our trains serving towns and cities across Britain, CrossCountry knows only too well how the railway supports the national and local economies. With fast, frequent services enabling business and commuter travellers to connect and grow regional economies, and leisure travellers able to reach seaside, rural and urban tourist destinations, a strong and efficient railway will continue to support our nation’s future.”
Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of Great Western Railway, said:“The Great Western network is undergoing its greatest transformation in a generation. Over 780 new train carriages are being introduced to our network, and will make the most of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan to electrify and modernise swathes of the Great Western. This work, when complete, will deliver 40% more seats, more frequent services and quicker journeys.

“While there is still much to do, passengers are already benefitting from these improvements; with new electric trains operating in London and the Thames Valley delivering extra capacity where it is needed most, as well as the first of the new Intercity Express Trains operating in place of their 40-year-old counterpart, the High Speed Train. None of this would be possible without closely working with our partners across the industry and throughout the communities we serve, and it is right that the industry comes together in this way to better deliver a railway fit to serve a 21st century population.”

Martin Frobisher, Managing Director for Network Rail’s London North Western route, said:

“By working as one team the rail industry is working to bring immediate customer benefits in the short term as well as lasting economic benefits for the long term.”

Mark Langman, Route Managing Director at Network Rail Western, said:
“The railway is key to the South West’s long-term prosperity. That’s why through our alliance we are working closer together by bringing track and train together to improve day-to-day performance for passengers with much more to come, all whilst upgrading the rail network across the region.”