Announced by transport secretary Chris Grayling last week, the 2019-24 funding settlement provides for the company to spend up to £47.9bn

 

The funding is intended to allow Network Rail to carry out plans to increase infrastructure maintenance and renewals to improve train service performance

 

The government has announced a significant boost in funding for Network Rail, focused on projects to increase train service punctuality.

The settlement for 2019-2024, announced by transport secretary Chris Grayling, provides for the company to spend up to £47.9bn during the period, a £10bn increase compared to the five years to 2019. The Department for Transport will provide grant funding of £34.7m with the remainder of the company’s income coming from track access charges paid by train operators and commercial activity such as property sales and development.

The funding is intended to allow Network Rail to carry out plans to increase infrastructure maintenance and renewals to improve train service performance that has declined on the majority of rail routes over the past four years.

We have some of the most intensively used railways in Europe

“We have some of the most intensively used railways in Europe, and this investment focuses on the essential work needed to ensure their safety and reliability, including funding to support a significant increase in renewals activity compared to the current period, and increased maintenance spend to allow Network Rail to meet the challenges of a busier network,” Grayling explained.

He added that the settlement was also designed to provide security for suppliers following lobbying from the Railway Industry Association on the inefficiency caused by peaks and troughs in activity.

In addition, Grayling said the funding would allow a significant increase in investment to improve the accessibility of the railway for people with impairments.

The announcement also confirms that new infrastructure enhancement projects, which accounted for £12.5bn of funding in the settlement for 2014-19, will be dealt with and funded separately. However, the 2019-24 package does provide £9bn of enhancement funding to carry out deferred projects including the TransPennine route upgrade, improvements to the Bristol network and Ely Junction remodelling, as well as funding to plan new projects.

Grayling said the details of how the money would be allocated by year and the distribution between maintenance, renewals and deferred enhancements would be determined by the Office of Rail and Road. Targets to improve punctuality will be agreed by the regulator, Network Rail routes and train operators.

 

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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