Growing appetite for investment in Britain’s railway – Network Rail

Appetite among private companies to invest in our railway is growing as Network Rail strives to become easier to work with.

An event hosted by Network Rail in July that aimed to attract investment from the private sector attracted a broad range of businesses, from sectors including aviation, home construction, technology, train manufacturing and banking and financial services.

It came amid a plan to bring £1.6bn of third-party investment to the railway over the next five years.

Network Rail can use this additional funding to deliver more upgrades and infrastructure, which would ultimately lead to greater passenger benefits.

Furthermore, Network Rail is on target to save £3.5bn during the next five years through new technology, innovation and working smarter.

Jeremy Westlake, chief financial officer at Network Rail, told delegates: “The vast majority of our budget, £42bn, is to be spent on running, maintaining and repairing the railway. If we want to build the amount of new infrastructure, new stations and upgrades that are needed in London and across Britain to grow the economy we must find alternative sources of funding.”

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Making it easier for third parties to invest in Britain’s railway

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Open for Business

Our Open for Business programme is making it easier for other organisations to invest and build on the railway.

Among other things, Network Rail is:

  • Publishing a list of projects other organisations can invest in.
  • Marketing work previously only Network Rail would have done to see if another organisation could do it cheaper, quicker or more efficiently
  • Reforming how Network Rail works with other organisations building on or next to the railway to make it less bureaucratic and more customer-focussed.
  • Updating more than 400 of its standards – the rules that govern how a railway project is run – to make them easier to follow and less restrictive. We’re also bringing innovation by allowing other organisations to suggest ways to improve them.

Jeremy said: “Across the country my team is seeing demand for even more railway projects, many of them local improvements, as community leaders and developers say they want more stations, railways reopened, better connectivity, improved capacity and faster journeys.

“Why? Because a major rail investment scheme can often be the catalyst to boost economic regeneration in an area; better transport links prompt people to relocate or work there, housing developers build new homes, businesses open and create jobs.”

Network Rail schemes involving third-party collaboration include:

  • Kenilworth station: a major rail investment scheme to boost economic regeneration between Nuneaton and Leamington Spa, providing regular services to Coventry and Leamington Spa and onward connections. This was funded by multiple parties, including the county council and local enterprise partnership.
  • Port of Felixstowe: the double-tracking of a 1.4 km section of track to remove a bottle neck for freight trains accessing the Port of Felixstowe. Hutchinson Ports part-funded the project, increasing freight and passenger capacity, and reducing road congestion and pollution.
  • Meridian Water station: a new, step-free station predicted to service four million passengers a year, due to open in summer of this year. Enfield Council funded the project, supporting a proposed 10,000 new homes and thousands of jobs.
  • Maghull North station: a new step-free station between Liverpool and Ormskirk which opened in June 2018 and entirely funded by the local growth fund, Merseytravel and the Homes and Communities Association. The station has provided a transport link for a new, large housing development.
  • Barking Riverside: a new station and track extension to extend the Gospel Oak to Barking line to a new London Overground station. The housing developer and Transport for London growth fund fully backed the project, enabling the construction of 10,800 homes.