UK's Railtrack Details Ambitious Investment Program

Posted on March 25, 1999

Railtrack PLC, the U.K.'s privatized company in charge of rail rights-of-way and stations, plans to increase its spending plans to meet 30% predicted growth over 10 years. Highlights include:

  • 30% passenger growth over 10 years needs £27 billion (more than US$50 billion) investment program
  • 30 capacity bottlenecks tackled with work underway at 11 of them
  • Major enhancements including upgrade of the East Coast Main Line
  • Improved rail access through and to central London and airport links
  • £2.5 billion (US$4 billion) program to develop new generation of modern stations
  • Further improvements in network reliability
  • An industry vision of a rail renaissance for Britain's railways Railtrack launched a massive £27 billion investment program when it unveiled its latest Network Management Statement (NMS) for Britain's railways today. This anticipates a 30% growth in passenger traffic over 10 years requiring new projects to increase capacity and reduce current constraints to growth. It is said to be the U.K. largest investment in rail since they were first created more than a century ago. In announcing the plan, Sir Robert Horton, Railtrack's chairman, said: "As the safest and most environmentally benign form of transport, rail belongs at the heart of integrated transport system serving every member of society. Working in partnership with the government, our regulators and our industry colleagues, this plan details the investment that is needed to deliver that vision by providing greater traffic capacity, greater comfort for passengers and even higher levels of safety." The plan will contribute significantly to the Government's environmental objectives and policies on sustainable development. By shifting passenger and freight from road to rail improvements to the rail network can bring about substantial benefits in respect of lower vehicle emissions, congestion and safety. "We are determined to seize this opportunity to improve the quality of life for everyone in the UK" said Railtrack, chief executive Gerald Corbett. "We recognize that there is still a great deal to be done. While we have made considerable progress in many areas, we know that too frequently the experience of passengers falls short of what they have a right to expect. From my own experience as a regular train traveler I am all too aware of the problems. Over the past year, we have worked closely with our customers - the train operators - and funders to understand their requirements for developing services and how we can work with them in delivering growth." He also took a swipe at the current British government which is studying whether to re-regulate the rail industry. There's no need for it, Corbett said, citing the public-private partnership to which Railtrack and the train operating franchisees are committed.
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