£9 billion investment programme for Railways in England and Wales to be announced
Coalition leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg will today announce an ambitious scheme of railway investment and improvement throughout England and Wales – to the tune of £9 billion.
Being hailed as “the biggest expansion in railways since the Victorian era” by David Cameron and Transport Secretary Justine Greening, the scheme is intended to combat the usual groans of Britain’s commuting population, namely crowded trains and unreliable service.
Speaking at London’s St Pancras International Station, Justine Greening claimed that the pricey scheme would improve capacity on trains, create faster travel by cutting journey times and reduce maintenance by ensuring a cleaner way of travelling.
The improvements announced so far include the electrification of the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Sheffield, the improvement of a “Northern Hub” surrounding Manchester, a series of upgrades to the East Coast Main Line and the electrification of the Great Western Rail Line between London and Swansea, as well the improvements to local rail lines in Wales.
The wide-reaching scheme seems to be well-received, but it is not all good news for commuters. Despite being announced now, the improvements are not scheduled to start until 2014, and won’t be completed until 2019 – at the earliest – and there seem to be big fare rises on the way.
In a move that will bring misery to millions of rail users, it is being suggested that close to 75% of the £9 billion price tag could be paid for by big fare rises, through prices going up for the next two years. Speaking about the cost on BBC Radio 4’s Today show, Justine Greening stated: “We’ve got to get the money from somewhere so, for the time being, the passengers are paying.”