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Published on : Thursday, November 21, 2013
Nearly £2m a day have been invested in improving the railway on the Western route over the last six months, new figures from Network Rail show. This brings a total of £342m worth of investment to the railways across the south west of England and the Thames Valley, benefitting key towns and cities including Swindon, Chippenham, Bath, Bristol, Kemble, Taunton and Gloucester.
The figures are based on Network Rail’s half-yearly results (for the period 1 April to 31 October 2013) published today, revealing that £2.74bn was invested in improving and building a bigger, better railway across Britain. The report shows investment is 33% up on the same period last year and 53% higher than just four years ago.
In the last financial year, Network Rail has invested around £700m on the Western route.
Patrick Hallgate, route managing director for Network Rail Western, said: “The railway continues to experience tremendous growth and we are responding to that demand through the biggest sustained investment programme since Victorian times. With a million more trains and half a billion more passengers than 10 years ago, Britain’s railways are all but full. We are squeezing all we can out of the existing network and the railway must improve and grow to deliver the step-change in capacity that Britain’s vital rail arteries need.”
The investment on the railway in the west of England is largely driven by Network Rail’s major plans to transform the Great Western mainline to become the most advanced intercity railway in Britain by the end of the decade.
The transformation plan includes the electrification of the Great Western mainline, the redoubling of the route from Swindon to Kemble, the Reading railway upgrade and Crossrail. Work on this £5bn mega-programme is currently well underway and amongst the milestones achieved is the completion of a £40m state-of-the-art factory train to support the electrification programme.
Above and beyond these major enhancement projects, Network Rail has also delivered the following improvements since 2009 – the start of the company’s current five-year funding period (Control Period 4):
– £300m to modernise life-expired signalling equipment between Paddington, Bristol, Oxford and Newbury so that the infrastructure is compatible with an electrified railway.
– Around £270m to improve nearly all the 186 stations across the south west of England and Thames Valley.
– A £33m fiscal stimulus programme that has helped create 135 jobs
– £138m to improve railway structures, including bridges and buildings, on the route.
Mr Hallgate concluded: “We continue to invest record amounts to deliver a bigger, better railway for passengers and businesses across Britain. We are also driving down the cost of running Britain’s railway to help make it more affordable in the years ahead. Train performance is still at high levels by historical standards, but has fallen behind our targets as we struggle to get more and more out of an ever overloaded network.”
Source:- Network Rail