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UK set to benefit from improved rail links

UK set to benefit from improved rail links
The daily commute can be a chore for many people having to face the continued uncertainty of whether they will get to their train on time, the packed carriages during rush hour and the general standard of the rails.

In light of this the government's recent announcement stating that it plans to transform the rail network across the UK with an investment plan of over £9 billion will come as welcome relief for those using trains every day to get to work.

It is part of a major overall of public transport around the country which has the likes of London committing to improving services across the capital with the ongoing Crossrail project. At the same time, Manchester is looking to better its transport links with the expansion of its Metrolink tram service to locations throughout the Greater Manchester area.

The Department for Transport (DfT) noted that the £9.4 billion investment would represent a major boost in growth for the railway networks across England and Wales. Officials stated that it would be able to ensure faster journey times, reliable services as well as increasing the capacity by an extra 140,000 trains used specifically to ease the strain on the daily commute.

It has already been highly commended by prime minister David Cameron, who said the development was the "biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian era", while deputy prime minister Nick Clegg believed that the overall plans would go some way to bridging the north-south divide. Among the plans is the electrification of the line between Sheffield and Bedford aiming to help improve services between the two regions. This "electric spine" will be able to boost both passenger and freight capacity between Yorkshire and the Midlands linking to ports on the south coast.

The full £9.4 billion programme includes £4.2 billion for new projects and officials have stated that work is due to get underway in 2014, allowing Britain to have a rail network to rival countries across the European Union by 2019.

Mr Cameron said: "From Crossrail, high speed rail and now the billions of pounds of investment we are announcing today, this government is committed to taking the long term decisions to deliver growth and jobs.

"In what is the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian era this investment will mean faster journeys, more seats, better access to stations, greater freight links and a truly world class rail network."

The "electric spine" is just the tip of the iceberg as there are further plans including major upgrades to the busy East Coast line, which links London to Scotland, with the government setting aside £240 million to make improvements between the capital, Leeds and Newcastle, providing quicker journeys as well as increased capacity. In Wales the electrification between Cardiff and Swansea is to be extended while it will also spread to the Welsh Valleys at a cost of £600 million.

Officials at the DfT also noted that there will be a major regeneration programme upgrading stations around the country including a £350 million upgrade of London's Waterloo facility which will see its platforms widened to meet the demand of passengers. This represents just one of the major developments that are happening in the English capital in terms of improving the rail network with the Crossrail project currently under construction.

The scheme, which has been hailed by a number of politicians, will see the use of 37 new and old stations across London connecting Heathrow Airport and Maidenhead in the west with Canary Wharf, Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east. It will also encompass eight underground stations and is set to make commuting across the capital a lot easier as it bores through 21 kilometres of tunnels underneath central London.

Officials have said that it is designed to allow commuters from previously difficult-to-reach destinations in the borough an easier way to get to London and also relieve the amount of strain that the capital's current Tube and Overground network reducing congestion and passenger numbers on singular trains. It is estimated that Crossrail will benefit the UK economy to the tune of £42 billion once it is completed by late 2018.

As part of the DfT's £9.4 billion investment, work in the north of England will feature prominently with the creation of the Northern Hub. This is set to see a series of projects around Manchester improving services across the network costing £332 million. However, the north-west city has already put plans in motion to expand its own transport links with its Metrolink tram service extending to the parts of the region.

Construction of the major plans have been underway for some time expanding the selections of routes from the current Bury, Altrincham, Eccles, MediaCity and Manchester Piccadilly and include the likes of Oldham, Rochdale, Ashton-under-Lyne, Droylsden and Manchester Airport. The Oldham Mumps line recently opened in June while other completion dates have been penned in for later in the year (East Manchester), 2013 (South Manchester), 2014 (Rochdale) and 2016 (Manchester Airport).

The plans are inline with major regeneration work around the city itself which will also include the introduction of 62 brand new yellow and silver M5000 Bombardier as part of £64 million investment.

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Date: 19/07/2012 08:45:04

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