£9bn cash boost for rail network
The Government is set to announce a £9 billion injection of cash into the rail network as ministers seek to breathe life into the flagging economy.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening is to set out details of what is being billed as the biggest programme of investment in the railways since the Victorian era.
The plan, covering the period 2014 to 2019, is expected to include electrification projects - such as the completion of the electrification of the Midland Main Line - and the funding to complete ongoing schemes such as Thameslink and the cross-London Crossrail.
Among the projects which could benefit are: New rail electrification, including the Midland Main Line from Bedford to Sheffield, and possibly the local lines in the Welsh Valleys. Already-announced electrification between Manchester and Leeds may also be extended;
Other projects include: The Northern Hub: A series of projects around Manchester that improve northern rail capacity so as to get more and faster trains across the north of England; Upgrades to the East Coast Line from London to Leeds and Newcastle and a possible reopening of the east-west link from Oxford and Aylesbury to Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire
There are also plans for upgraded stations and reinstating tracks and platforms removed in the past as well as funds to finish Crossrail and Thameslink and electrification of the lines from London to Bristol and Cardiff, and from Manchester to Liverpool, Blackpool and Leeds.
The Campaign for Better Transport said: "Whilst we welcome more investment in rail, massive fares increases shouldn't be used to pay for it. We are also concerned that any rail investment is likely to come alongside increased funding for roads and road schemes, including a possible toll road on the A14 near Cambridge which will simply add to congestion around Cambridge.
"This is self-defeating and some possible schemes, such as a road widening round Stonehenge, will be very damaging. A coherent transport policy, as opposed to a list of schemes, looks further away than ever."
Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said the investment would only come through after the next general election in 2015.
"It is rail investment now, not post-dated cheques, that will deliver jobs and growth," she said. "The Tory-led Government cut the rail investment plans they inherited by more than three-quarters of a billion pounds and have presided over two years of dither and delay over vital rail projects and train procurement. Setting out plans for way beyond the next election helps the industry to plan ahead, but does nothing to boost the economy now."