£9bn boost for railways

Blackpool North Station
Blackpool North Station
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The Government is set to announce a £9bn injection of cash into the rail network as ministers seek to breathe life into the flagging economy.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening will set out tomorrow details of what is being billed as the biggest programme of investment in the railways since the Victorian era.

The plan, covering the period 2014 to 2019, is expected to include electrification projects - such as the completion of the electrification of the Midland Main Line - and the funding to complete ongoing schemes such as Thameslink and the cross-London Crossrail.

Rail campaigners welcomed the prospect of increased investment in the network but warned against massive fare hikes to pay for it.

Among the projects which could benefit are:

- Electrification of the lines from London to Bristol and Cardiff, and from Manchester to Liverpool, Blackpool and Leeds.

- The Northern Hub: A series of projects around Manchester that improve northern rail capacity so as to get more and faster trains across the north of England;

- New rail electrification, including the Midland Main Line from Bedford to Sheffield, and possibly the local lines in the Welsh Valleys.

- Upgrades to the East Coast Line from London to Leeds and Newcastle;

- A possible reopening of the east-west link from Oxford and Aylesbury to Milton Keynes;

- Upgraded stations and reinstating tracks and platforms removed in the past;

- Funds to finish Crossrail and Thameslink;

The Campaign for Better Transport said yesterday: “While we welcome more investment in rail, massive fares increases shouldn’t be used to pay for it.”

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This January the annual increase in regulated fares, which include season tickets, was limited to RPI inflation plus 1 per cent, based on the RPI figure for July 2011.

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said the investment would only come through after the next general election in 2015.

“It is rail investment now, not post-dated cheques, that will deliver jobs and growth,” she said.

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