Government to announce £9bn railway scheme

LONDON will gain an electrified railway service to Sheffield and plans to reopen the line between Oxford and Cambridge will take a step forward as part of a £9bn rail funding package that the government is expected to announce today.

Transport secretary Justine Greening will unveil a UK rail investment plan for 2014-2019 that includes a commitment to provide faster and more efficient electric trains on the Midland Main Line to Leicester, Derby and South Yorkshire.

Funding will also be provided to reopen part of the Varsity Line, which ran between Oxford and Cambridge until 1967. This should enable services between Oxford and Milton Keynes to resume by 2017, with the intention of restoring the entire route in the future.

Previously announced plans to electrify the Great Western Main Line from London to Cardiff will now be extended to Swansea, while bottlenecks on the East Coast Main Line will also be removed.

Around £5bn of the total investment is earmarked for completing existing projects such as Thameslink and Crossrail, with £4bn reserved for new plans.

The programme is part of the government’s plan to boost the economy through construction projects, though passengers could face higher fares as a result.