In the “biggest expansion in railways in over 150 years”, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg today outlined a £9.4 billion investment in network upgrades.
The ‘high level output specification’ programme, which will run for five years from 2014 in tandem with the government’s High Speed 2 plans, will expand the government’s plans to electrify track from Yorkshire and the West Midlands to ports on the South Coast and into Wales.
The government is already committed to a £5.2 billion investment to support electrification of London to Cardiff routes, Manchester to Liverpool and Preston, and across the Pennines, as well as other projects like Crossrail and Thameslink.
The additional £4.2 billion of new investment announced today will create an ‘electric spine’ from Yorkshire and the West Midlands to South Coast ports, electrifying and upgrading track from Sheffield through Nottingham, Derby and Leicester to Bedford.
The £800 million project will complete the electrification of the Midland Main Line out of London St Pancras.
The new schemes will also extend the electrification beyond Cardiff to Swansea, completing the electrification of the Great Western Main Line out of London Paddington at a cost of more than £600m, as well as electrifying the Welsh Valley lines, including Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and the Vale of Glamorgan.
As part of the plans, lines from Nuneaton and Bedford to Oxford, Reading, Basingstoke and Southampton will also be electrified and there will be a new rail link between the Great Western Main Line and Heathrow allowing direct services to the airport for passengers from the West Country, the Thames Valley and Wales.
The new programme will be funded out of fare increases and from the substantial efficiency savings that the switch to electric trains will bring, says the Department for Transport.
“As someone who cares deeply about the environment, the opportunity to dramatically expand rail, a greener form of transport than aviation or road is very exciting indeed. This investment will help people to choose trains over cars, reduce carbon emissions and provide a rail system that is faster, more reliable and greener,” commented Deputy Prime Minister Clegg.
For further information:
US Vice President unveils six-year high-speed rail network building plan (10-Feb 2011)
US invests $2.4 billion in high-speed rail projects (5-Nov 2010)
UK rail network unveils plans for an electric future (29-My 2009)
16 July 2012