New process for rail fund­ing aims to give best value for tax­pay­ers

Western Mail - - NEWS -

MA­JOR rail up­grades will be funded through a new process in a bid to ob­tain the best value for tax­pay­ers, the Depart­ment for Trans­port (DfT) has an­nounced.

Net­work Rail was pre­vi­ously handed money for schemes whose bud­gets es­ca­lated, such as the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the Great West­ern route.

But Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling re­vealed in De­cem­ber last year that he was “go­ing to do things dif­fer­ently”, with pri­vate sec­tor in­volve­ment to de­sign, build and op­er­ate a line be­tween Ox­ford and Cam­bridge.

The DfT un­veiled a multi-bil­lion pound rail fund­ing settlement yes­ter­day but said cash for en­hance­ments will be al­lo­cated sep­a­rately to “pro­vide more rigour in in­vest­ment de­ci­sions”.

De­tails of how ma­jor projects will be funded are ex­pected to be pub­lished later this year.

Net­work Rail chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Carne said: “Net­work Rail is transforming into de­volved busi­nesses to bet­ter re­spond to its lo­cal cus­tomers and com­mu­ni­ties.

“This lo­cal fo­cus, com­bined with open­ing up the fund­ing, fi­nanc­ing and de­liv­ery of in­vest­ment projects to third par­ties, will help to drive ef­fi­cien­cies and value for the tax­payer.”

Around £48bn will be spent on the rail­way from 2019 to 2024, with a fo­cus on main­te­nance and re­newal work to im­prove the re­li­a­bil­ity of trains.

Mr Grayling said: “This Gov­ern­ment is con­tin­u­ing its record fund­ing in Bri­tain’s rail net­work. 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.”

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