Rail network in England and Wales to get £48bn of funding

The Ordsall Chord rail project in Manchester.

The transport secretary Chris Grayling has published the final statement of funds available for the railway in England and Wales for control period 6, which covers the years 2019 to 2024.

The government say they expect around £47.9bn to be spent on the railway across control period 6. Of this, they expect they expect up to £34.7 billion to be provided directly via government grant, with the remainder coming from a combination of track access charges and income from other sources, such as Network Rail’s property portfolio.

Chris Grayling said that around £48bn will be spent on the network over the five-year period, including more maintenance and a huge uplift in renewals to increase reliability and punctuality for passengers.

Grayling also confirmed that there will be a new funding process for major upgrades and enhancements which will provide more rigour in investment decisions to make sure public spending best meets the needs of passengers and freight.

Making the announcement, Grayling said: “This government is continuing its record funding in Britain’s rail network. As a commuter, I know how frustrating it is to be delayed by problems on the line. Passengers want a railway they can rely on and that’s where this huge investment will make a real difference to their everyday lives - by renewing more tracks earlier and increasing maintenance to deliver far better services.

“This investment is about boosting reliability and punctuality for millions of journeys, and we will do this alongside building major upgrades around the country and delivering new, faster, more comfortable trains.”

The statement of funds available for the rail industry will mean a direct grant of up to £34.7bn for spending between 2019 and 2024. Total spending will be around £47.9bn once Network Rail’s expected income is calculated and added to the pot.

Grayling’s announcement includes funding for the early stages of developing new rail schemes, but, in a departure from the previous approach, the government will allocate funds separately for major upgrades following a new process to ensure they are deliverable and secure the best value for money for the tax payer. This new process will be set out in more detail later this year.

Commenting on the Department for Transport's announcement, Network rail chief executive Mark Carne said: “Continued high levels of investment in our railway is essential to create the jobs, housing and economic boost our country needs to prosper. Today's announcement shows the government's endorsement of this approach. Over the next 12-18 months millions of passengers will experience significant improvements to their services as thousands of new trains, faster and more frequent services come on-stream.

“Network Rail is transforming into devolved businesses to better respond to its local customers and communities. This local focus, combined with opening up the funding, financing and delivery of investment projects to third parties, will help to drive efficiencies and value for the taxpayer. We will submit our detailed plans to the regulator in the next few months that will help to finalise the railways funding for the five years to 2024 and continue to drive our company's transformation to better equip it for the demands ahead.”

The government's announcement drew sharp criticism from the opposition. Andy McDonald, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, "Today’s statement of funds available for the rail industry highlights the government’s chaotic approach to rail investment. Its promises, pauses and cancellations are all catastrophically undermining the industry. Pledges about record levels of funding will ring hollow both for passengers denied much needed upgrades and a rail supply chain haemorrhaging jobs and skills.”

The funding amounts for the network will be refined during the regulatory process, which will produce by summer 2018 detailed draft amounts for the 2019 to 2024 period for consultation. Budgets will also be set at route level. The regulatory process will conclude with a final determination in October 2018.

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