Network Rail has submitted its strategic business plan to the Office of Rail Regulation for approval. If approved, the investment in new infrastructure will boost capacity at key pinch points on the network, providing 170,000 extra commuter seats at peak times by 2019. This is in addition to the HS2 project, which Network Rail said was also essential to help out the West Coast Main Line.
The plan also sets out flood protection measures and an upgrade of key freight routes to accommodate bigger containers.
Network Rail chief executive David Higgins said: “One million more trains run every year than ten years ago, more passengers arrive on time than ever before, our safety record is one of the best in Europe and, despite the daily challenges we face, customer satisfaction is at record levels. Successive governments have made this possible by looking beyond the short term and recognising the critical importance of the railway to Britain’s future.
“As our railway gets busier the challenges get bigger and more complex. We have entered an era of trade-offs. Increasingly we have to balance the need to build more infrastructure, run trains on time and cut costs, and in many areas choices will need to be made.”
Alongside the strategic business plan, Network Rail has also published an accompanying document, A Better Railway for a Better Britain, outlining 10 commitments, including investing in new technology, building partnerships with customers and suppliers and investing in infrastructure today to save costs and improve safety.
Mr Higgins continued: “As an industry we have achieved a huge amount, but we are already seeing the benefit of working more closely together with our customers and suppliers and that must remain at the heart of everything we do. Our aim is to be a trusted leader in the industry as we work to build a better railway for a better Britain.