Rail companies launch joint plan to boost jobs, services and investment in South East London and Kent’s railway
South East London and Kent’s rail companies, as well as suppliers and local authorities, have come together today to launch a long-term plan for the region’s railway called ‘In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity – South East London and Kent’.
The plan, which sets out the railway’s plans to work in partnership to invest and improve will in-turn deliver £9.2bn of additional economic benefit across the wider south-east region, and forms part of a national plan first launched by the industry last October. It sets out how the four key national commitments made by the railway – to strengthen the economy; improve journeys; boost communities; and provide rewarding careers – will deliver for people in South East London and Kent.
Plans for the region’s railway includes an ongoing £6 million investment in major refurbishments, including installing more waiting shelters on platforms in 28 stations, introducing cycle hubs and installing new service information screens and announcement systems in more than 160 stations.
The next South Eastern franchise (commencing in 2019) is expected to deliver more space for 40,000 extra passengers and Network Rail is investing £300m to enhance track power supplies and extend platforms, giving passengers more space. There will also be faster, more frequent services to London and key destinations in Kent throughout the day with additional peak services.
‘In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity – South East London and Kent’ was launched during an event at Rochester attended by representatives from the region’s political, business and rail user communities, as well as employees from the industry. Industry leaders from Southeastern, Network Rail, High Speed 1, Arriva Rail London, the rail freight sector and the rail supply chain all gave their backing to the plan.
Robert Nisbet, Regional Director at the Rail Delivery Group says:
“The railway is crucial to the region’s economic prosperity connecting workers with jobs, goods with markets and friends and family to great days out. Delivered by working together, this plan will benefit not only the people who use the railway but communities, businesses and people who work on the railway across South East London and Kent.”
By April 2019, the number of customer-facing apprenticeships will increase from eight in January 2018 to more than 90 by March 2019, and the number of new apprentice drivers will increase from 20 to 110.
The rail industry is prioritising improving diversity across the sector, and plans include focussing on attracting more women to consider rewarding careers in the industry. They’ve set new targets to see 40% of train driver applications from women by 2021.
David Statham, Managing Director, Southeastern, said:
“Working together, we’re always trying to do more for our passengers, constantly investing in our people and service to provide better journeys.
“Local communities rely on Southeastern trains every day, and businesses recognise the role that the railway plays in helping grow local economies across Kent. Eight out of 10 Southeastern passengers are satisfied with our service – but we know that there’s always more we can and willdo to deliver a better railway. That’s why we have set out this plan with our partners today.”
John Halsall, Route Managing Director South East, Network Rail, said:
“The railway in South East London and Kent is one of the busiest parts of the network, helping more than three million people a week travel to work, school and for leisure. Together, the rail industry is investing record amounts to renew and upgrade the railway so we can continue to drive and support economic growth for people and businesses across the South East.”
Dyan Crowther, Chief Executive, HS1, said:
“The railway is at the heart of the future of the region. At HS1, nearly a decade on from the introduction of domestic high speed services, we have been proud to witness and deliver a truly transformative railway for the South East of England. In tourism alone, we have unlocked new journeys, new visitors and economic growth measured in the hundreds of millions of pounds. Working together with our partners, we will continue to connect communities and spread the benefits of growth today and into the future.”
Karen Boswell OBE, Group CAO Hitachi Rail and Managing Director, Hitachi Rail Europe, said:
“I have seen the tangible benefits that further investment and greater collaboration has already delivered on the Southeastern route. Over the past decade, our iconic Javelin trains and our Ashford maintenance depot has created 128 new long-term jobs, 12 apprentices, and help to deliver a £1 billion boost to Kent’s visitor economy. Therefore, we welcome the commitment for further investment and collaboration because Hitachi Rail is striving to build on its past success and grow our presence for the benefit of passengers in the South East.”
Hans-Georg Werner, Chair, RDG Freight Board, said:
“South-East London and Kent is a strategically important region for the UK, providing a gateway to opportunities in Europe and beyond. The huge investment earmarked for this area will benefit passenger and rail freight alike.”
Mrs Kelly‐Joe Ballard from Bromley is a train driver at Grove Park. Kelly-Joe works with other departments like the maintenance team, delay team, platform staff and driver managers to provide the best service possible. Before becoming a train driver, Kelly-Joe was a bus driver, and before that she cared for her grandmother. She has also previously worked in libraries and is a qualified florist.
“I joined the industry in 2016 and in that time, I’ve seen how Southeastern and other rail companies are always striving to produce a better, safer railway. They provide me with excellent training and all the tools I need to do my job.
“I enjoy providing an important service to people and I enjoy the customer service side of my job. I feel that I have complete support from my colleagues and my driver manager. In fact, all driving managers are available when you need them.
“I already feel that there are very good partnerships across the industry, but we can do more. Everyone working together, with the same goals, can only have a positive outcome and help to implement change for the better.”