Network Rail Plans £2.44bn for Railway Upgrade Projects
Network Rail, the government-backed owner of Britain’s railways, plans to invest £2.44bn ($4.83bn) over two years to expand and improve the UK’s overcrowded train system.
Network Rail will pay £1.73bn to add new lines and platforms, the London-based company said today in a statement. Stakeholders in the company, including the UK’s Department for Transport and train operators, will spend £713m.
The plan, involving 900 individual upgrades of the system, will double expenditure on the network. Passenger numbers on trains are at their highest levels in 60 years and 12 rail lines face ‘significant capacity constraints’, according to Network Rail.
“We’re not standing still waiting for the big infrastructure projects to be delivered,” chief executive officer John Armitt said in the statement. “We are doing something about it now.”
The plan includes more platforms at London’s Kings Cross station and Manchester airport. It will also include rail upgrades for the 2012 Olympic Games, which will be held in the English capital. For the past 12 years Britain has spent about £500m on its railways annually.
In 2004 15% of passengers using trains during their morning commute were unable to find seats, according to Network Rail. Areas around London and Edinburgh are especially crowded, the company said.
The UK government said on March 14 that it will pay £130m for 1,000 new train carriages, about a tenth of the existing network, to add rail capacity.
A day later Stagecoach Group Plc said it planned to return about £700m to shareholders, with its chief executive officer and his sister being the main beneficiaries. The move sparked criticism from groups including Passenger Focus, a campaign group for commuters.