Network Rail gets £48bn in fresh funding as major rail upgrades get a shake-up

Rebecca Smith
Network Rail's funding has been given a boost
Network Rail's funding has been given a boost (Source: Getty)

The government has today announced up to £48bn will be spent on maintaining and operating Britain's rail network over five years from 2019, in what the transport secretary called a "stretching yet achievable" total.

A direct grant will be provided of up to £34.7bn for spending between 2019 and 2024, with the Department for Transport saying total spending will be around £47.9bn, when Network Rail's expected income is calculated and added to the amount.

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Setting out the statement of funds available for the rail industry, transport secretary Chris Grayling also said today there will be a new funding process for major upgrades and enhancements to provide more rigour in investment decisions.

This is a move away from the previous approach, which the government said was to ensure major upgrades are deliverable and secure the best value for money for the tax payer. Details on that process will be unveiled later this year.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said the funding came on top of "record rail funding" over the past five years.

Grayling said:

As a commuter, I know how frustrating it is to be delayed by problems on the line. Passengers want a railway they can rely on and that’s where this huge investment will make a real difference to their everyday lives - by renewing more tracks earlier and increasing maintenance to deliver far better services.

This investment is about boosting reliability and punctuality for millions of journeys, and we will do this alongside building major upgrades around the country and delivering new, faster, more comfortable trains.

In July, the transport secretary pushed back the rail funding decision, saying he needed "more assurance" on costs, saying Network Rail's progress on improving efficiency in recent years had "fallen short" of his expectations.

Network Rail has control of 2,500 stations, as well as tracks and tunnels on Britain's rail network.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said:

Sufficient funding of today's railway is essential to sustaining its reliability and safety so we welcome this important milestone.

This decision recognises the importance of our railway to the economy and to the communities and customers it serves and it represents an important vote of confidence in the industry's ability to deliver while providing greater certainty for jobs and investment in the supply chain.

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