The UK's railways are set for a significant boost after Network Rail announced it plans to embark on a huge infrastructure investment programme.
Officials at the organisation have described the initiative as the biggest of its kind since the Victorian era, and said it will be phased in between 2014 and 2019. Network Rail is looking to provide a total of £37 billion over this timeframe with the aim of improving the overall running and expanding of the UK's railway. It noted that £4 billion has been earmarked to be used in Scotland while the rest will be focused on the rest of the country.
The plans are aimed at providing more room for extra passengers as well as looking to reduce costs but officials warned that tough choices will have to be made if the rail industry is keen on meeting the targets that it has set out for itself. The investment programme is still to be approved but if all goes to plan then it could see an extra 170,000 commuter seats added. However, this may not be enough to service the West Coast Main Line which can become extremely busy during peak times.
David Higgins, Network Rail chief executive, said: "One million more trains run every year than ten years ago, more passengers arrive on time than ever before, our safety record is one of the best in Europe and, despite the daily challenges we face, customer satisfaction is at record levels."
It will provide a timely boost for the UK's rail networks, but for commuters it could add further misery, as the TSSA rail union has warned that it may mean a further hike in prices. The organisation noted that some annual season tickets could go up by as much as £1,000 when the changes are implemented by 2019. The UK already has one of the most expensive rail networks in the world, and passengers recently saw overall ticket prices grow by 3.9 per cent.
While the improvements will mean a significant upgrade in terms of standards, it could be hitting commuters hard in the pocket.
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