Investing in the railway - Transport Contents


Summary

The Government has committed to a record level of funding for Network Rail for the five-year period from 2014-2019, for the operation, maintenance and enhancement of the rail network. This welcome investment on enhancements—at a time of limits on public spending—is aimed at meeting the demand for both passenger rail and freight services which has grown substantially year-on-year. Network Rail's capacity to deliver this ambitious programme has been brought into question following the Christmas 2014 overrunning engineering works, which caused chaos for thousands of passengers expecting to travel to and from Paddington and King's Cross. The continued disruption at London Bridge has compounded these concerns: Network Rail must demonstrate that it can deliver the objectives it has been funded to deliver.

We have also called for the benefits of this record investment to be maximised by setting the 2014-19 work programme into a longer-term strategic vision, which sets out provisional objectives for future spending, and considers the rail network as part of an integrated transport strategy, which takes a route-based approach to road and rail investment, and prioritise connectivity to ports and airports. A revised—and published—criteria for allocating funding will take into account the wider economic and social objectives of rail investment, and help to ensure a fairer distribution of spending across the country.

Finally, this inquiry has focused on the classic rail network. But we repeat our recommendation that the benefits of HS2 will only be maximised by ensuring connectivity between the classic and high-speed network, including improving East-West rail links across the country. The Department should clarify its future plans for improving trans-Pennine links—the Chancellor's proposed HS3—and consider such plans alongside its proposals for future investment in the classic network.




 
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Prepared 23 January 2015