As 2012 arrives and both the Euro crises and the recession continue, our good fortune is to be in an industry that is still spending money and attracting investment.
High Speed Two is headline news but Rail Alliance members will benefit from a plethora of positive developments.
In his Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne underlined the government’s continued belief in the recession busting role of the railways by confirming £1.4 billion of investment as part of the economy revitalising national infrastructure plan, the Rail Alliance’s Rail Industry Liaison Manager Neil Stevens reports.
Projects included the £290 million electrification between Manchester, Leeds and the ECML. Another beneficiary was the Oxford – Bedford railway, where £270 million will open the western section of the Oxford – Cambridge ‘Varsity Line,’ as a 100mph mixed traffic route.
Tyne and Wear Metro
With Chiltern Railway’s previously confirmed upgrade of the Bicester – Oxford section of this route, the funding will link fast-expanding Milton Keynes with Bedford, London Marylebone, Oxford and Reading.
Additionally the Chancellor confirmed a further £390 million for station improvements, £290m for bridge renewals, £4m to upgrade the Tyne and Wear Metro, £45m on extending the Oyster scheme in London and £290 million to limit the planned January 2012 fare rises to 1% above inflation rather than the 3% originally proposed.
At the same time the Chancellor backed the extension of the Charing Cross branch of the Northern Line through to Battersea, including two new stations at Battersea and Nine Elms.
There’s good news for rolling stock with the announcement of £80 million support for Southern’s acquisition of 130 new Class 377 Electrostar vehicles. These will supplement Southern’s existing fleet and provide a timely boost to the fortunes of Derby train builder Bombardier.
Rail freight has also fared well with Government commitment to modal shift and rail freight reinforced with the publication of the DfT’s Logistics Growth Review. Welcomed by developers of major inland rail terminals the Policy Guidance on Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges will help them negotiate the ever burdensome planning process.
The review also sanctions Network Rail to invest a further £55 million in the development of the Strategic Freight Network. This work includes track doubling between Ely and Soham eliminating a major bottleneck on the Felixstowe – Nuneaton corridor.
Other works include the gauge clearance of additional routes in the midlands to allow the passage of 9ft 6 containers, support for new services from both Felixstowe and Southampton ports and improvements to the 24 hour availability of the network by enabling diversionary routes to be available.
Direct Rail Services has announced the placing of an order with Vossloh España for the supply of a new fleet of 3750 hp, diesel-electric locomotives expected to become UK Class 68s. All of this backs up optimistic forecasts predicting a doubling of rail freight volumes by 2030.
2012 looks like being a good, positive year as the renaissance of Britain’s rail network continues.