Network Rail: Building a better railway
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain’s railway – the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts, and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which Network Rail also run).
In partnership with train operators, Network Rail help people take more than 1.6bn journeys by rail every year – double the number of 1996 – and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8 million lorry journeys.
Every day four million people travel by train – twice as many as in 2004.
Network Rail has invested in modernisation and smarter working methods, which has resulted in more frequent and reliable services for passengers, and brighter and better stations. 400,000 more passenger trains run each year than in 2009, while the amount of freight transported by rail in Britain has grown by 13 per cent.
Yet demand for passenger and freight services keeps on growing, and parts of the rail network are already close to capacity. This is why Network Rail is creating a bigger, better and even safer railway for Britain, through significant further investment in infrastructure and better working methods.
Network Rail’s vision is ‘a better railway for a better Britain’ which it says means “delivering a railway that is safer, more reliable and more efficient than ever before, and that will help to build a thriving, sustainable economy.
“Britain’s railway does more than transport passengers and goods. It brings people and businesses closer together, which creates new jobs, opens up new markets and stimulates economic growth. So we must aim to provide the best possible service to everyone who relies on the railway – passengers, the train operating companies and businesses nation-wide.”
To this end, Network Rail is currently investing £38bn in the railway to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations by 2019.
It is anticipated that the demand for rail services will grow by more than 30 per cent over the next decade. Much of this will be driven by the continuation of economic and social trends that have fuelled rail growth over the last decade, including population and employment growth and increasing road congestion.
Recent and planned rail investments – better stations, new trains and services, faster and more punctual journeys, and improved connectivity – will encourage even more passengers to travel by rail. This growth is welcome as the extra revenue will help reduce the amount of subsidy needed by the rail industry, although further growth will also add to the industry’s capacity challenge.
As a result of investments Network Rail is making, by 2019 the country’s rail network will be delivering 225m more passenger journeys each year. More trains per day will run between northern cities and 170,000 extra seats will be available on trains going into large cities nationwide.
According to Network Rail:
“This is the largest programme of sustained investment in the railway that Britain has ever seen. It involves a wide range of improvements, from lengthening platforms and redesigning track layouts to introducing electrification and building world-class stations. We are also exploring and defining ways in which we can harness the power of digital technology to help increase the network’s capacity in the longer-term future.”
Recent projects, under this programme of works, have included the Battersea Park junction renewal scheme and the Wandsworth Town project.
Work on the Battersea Park project comprised the renewal of a junction on the Brighton Main Line at Battersea Park, including the removal and installation of track. The work has helped to reduce noise on the line and to provide more resilience to the extreme weather conditions the UK has faced as of late.
The Wandsworth Town project, meanwhile, involved the upgrade, repair and replacement of a series of structures within the town, some of which have been in existence since 1880. Works on the £6 million scheme included the replacement of Fairfield Street Bridge, the repair of Old York Road Bridge and the strengthening of Wandsworth Town Subway.
For more information about Network Rail, or to take a look at the projects taking place in your area, please visit: www.networkrail.co.uk.