Network Rail’s annual report has been published, which reveals a record amount of £4.1 billion was spent on upgrading Britain’s railways last year.
For 2017/18, the level of investment was at an all-time high, highlighting the fact that thousands of projects have been either completed during that time, or are nearing completion.
In this time, a number of significant projects have been delivered, as detailed in the annual report.
At the beginning of this year, London Bridge was fully opened; back in November, the £85 million Ordsall Chord project was completed in time and on budget, while a number of other railways throughout England were upgraded.
Network Rail’s focus during 2017/18 was its transformation to a customer-focused, cost competitive organisation; elsewhere, route performance targets were developed with train operating companies, and six route supervisory boards have been set up.
Although debt increased over the last year, this was in line with expectations, and Network Rail say this approach will change for the next Strategic Business Plan which will cover Control Period 6, because investment projects will be funded by either grants or third party investment.
Reliability and performance of infrastructure assets increased by 15%, but a number of circumstances such as severe weather and increased congestion means that train performance hasn’t been at the levels Network Rail would like – and recent train timetable changes have only highlighted this issue.
Following the publication of the annual report, Jeremy Westlake, Chief Financial Officer, said investment is “vital” for new services.
“Britain’s railways are a vital economic driver for our country, helping to create employment and stimulate growth and housing by connecting people to jobs, friends and family.
“But our railways are congested and the huge investment in our railway, encapsulated in the railway upgrade plan, is vital to provide more capacity for services that are coming on stream now, and will continue to do so over the coming months and years.”