UK rail network gets £9.4bn boost

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Rail networks across the UK are to receive a £9.4 billion investment upgrade in new plans revealed by the government.

The announcement by David Cameron today covering 2014-2019 will see a new £500 million link into Heathrow, with the east to west London Crossrail link to be completed and an upgrade to the north to south Thameslink. In addition, electric lines will be installed in the Welsh valleys and London-Sheffield line.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) welcomed the announcement.

“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,” said its chief executive Michael Roberts.

Meanwhile the aviation industry questioned why a similar structure had not been put in place for its sector. With the train development to be funded by taxpayers and hiked train fares, the aviation sector added that any capacity changes at airports would be privately funded. 

“While all transport investment should be welcomed, the spectacle of the PM and Deputy PM falling over themselves to trumpet the merits of £9.4 billion in public support for investment in railway infrastructure, contrasts sharply with the ostrich-like head in the sand approach the Government is continuing adopt towards the need for new airport capacity,” said Simon Buck, chief executive of BATA. “Investment in domestic railway schemes is undoubtedly good news for the UK construction industry and rail users but will do precisely nothing to enhance the UK’s international connectivity with emerging world economies”. 

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