New schemes to green UK railways through electrification totaling £4.2 billion were unveiled today by the Government.
The investment will see the creation of a high-capacity 'electric spine
’ running from Yorkshire
and the West Midlands
to South Coast
ports, enabling faster, greener and more efficient electric trains
to take over from diesel ones. As well as boosting capacity for passengers, the schemes will allow more freight to be taken off the roads and onto the railways, helping to cut carbon emissions, Ministers said.
The schemes include electrification and upgrade of the Midland Main Line between Sheffield and Bedford, electrification of the lines from Nuneaton and Bedford to Oxford, Reading, Basingstoke and Southampton, completion of the electrification of the Great Western Main Line beyond Cardiff to Swansea, and electrifying the Welsh Valley lines, including Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and the Vale of Glamorgan.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the programme was an "exciting" opportunity to "dramatically expand" a greener form of transport than aviation
will help people to choose trains over cars, reduce carbon emissions and provide a rail system that is faster, more reliable and greener," he said.
The announcement is part of a £9.4 billion programme of improvements to the rail network published today that also includes previously announced Crossrail and Thameslink and electrification between London and Cardiff, Manchester to Liverpool and Preston, and across the Pennines. All the projects will be completed this decade, ahead of the £32 billion high-speed rail network, HS2
, announced by Transport Secretary Justine Greening in January. They will be discussed at today’s Cabinet meeting as part of the Government’s plans to get the economy moving again, but none of the work will commence until 2014.
The Government said the package will be funded in part from fare rises already announced in 2010 and from efficiency savings which electrification will have on the long-term operating costs of the railways.
"Investment on this scale, in every region of the country, shows how this Coalition Government is focused on delivering an affordable, reliable and faster railway network that drives jobs and growth," said Greening.
"These plans to increase capacity and shorten journey times on intercity, commuter and freight services are, alongside our plans for high speed rail, absolutely key to securing our country’s prosperity in the decades ahead."
Biggest modernisation since Victorian times
Prime Minister David Cameron said the investment represented the "biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian era.
"This Government is committed to taking the long term decisions to deliver growth and jobs […] this investment will mean faster journeys, more seats, better access to stations, greater freight links and a truly world class rail network," he said.
Programme of investment
Greening said £800 million will be spent on full electrification of the Midland Main Line from Sheffield – through Nottingham, Derby and Leicester – to Bedford. A further £600 million will go towards the full electrification of the Great Western Main Line out of London Paddington.
A further £322 million has been approved to complete the 'Northern Hub’ cluster of rail enhancements across Manchester city centre, Manchester Airport and across to Liverpool.
And £500 million will spent on a rail link between the Great Western Main Line and Heathrow enabling direct services to the airport from the West Country, the Thames Valley and Wales.
Today’s enhancements also include £240 million of improvements along the East Coast Main Line from the North East down through Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire to London and a £350 million lengthening of platforms at London Waterloo station.
Greening said the upgrades to stations and tracks would create enough capacity around cities for an additional 140,000 daily rail commutes at peak times.
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