Central to the government’s National Infrastructure Plan is its continued support for railways.
The NIP lists achievements made by the industry and acknowledges that passenger numbers have doubled since privatisation. Less popular was the announcement that the government’s 40% stake in Eurostar will be sold along with other state assets to raise money for investment.
However, the new railway remains at the heart of plans to catalyse growth, job creation and economic success. The plan notes that, ‘Much of the infrastructure that supports the network is already nearing its capacity limits.
‘Commuter services into London and other regional centres are already oversubscribed, meaning that capacity is set to become an increasingly prominent issue over the coming years.’
Over the holiday season railway workers will be working round the clock on projects ranging from overhead electrification to tunnelling and track renewal. Already Network Rail plans to install a new platform at Gatwick this Christmas.
HS2 continues to grab the headlines. Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury said, ‘High Speed Two is a massive investment: £42 billion over the next couple of decades.
‘That’s something which will really help and is strongly supported by leaders in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield as well as London because it’s about transforming the ability of passengers, goods and people to move around this country quickly.’
With Crossrail powering ahead and wires going up for the Great Western electrification, 2014 looks like being a great year for railways.