Network Rail has invested £7 billion in the UK’s rail network – including the new electrified routes and services between Glasgow and Edinburgh, Stirling and Alloa and on the Grangemouth branch line, according to its annual report.
It was a year which saw massive commuter unrest and anger over timetable changes and missing services with almost 3,000 new services a week added to the network to provide capacity and extra seats as investment in Britain’s infrastructure hit a record high.
However, this comes at a mammoth cost with net debt of £54.1 billion, up from £51.3 billion, owing to increased borrowing to fund the investment.
The report – covering the 12 months to 31 March – claimed millions of passengers and freight users will benefit from the £7 billion investment. It is aimed at growing and expanding the railway infrastructure in preparation for over 6,000 new weekly services that will be introduced gradually over the next few years.
Examples of investment, other than in Scotland, include:
- The rebuilding of London Bridge station, transforming the station for hundreds of thousands of passengers
- Other new stations opened at Meridian Water, Maghull North and Newton-le-Willows
- Huge increase in services, carriages and seats along the Thameslink route with the completion of the multi-£bn project
- Longer and new platforms and services serving London Waterloo, including the reopening of London Waterloo International for domestic use
- Liverpool Lime Street and Derby stations remodelling
Andrew Haines, chief executive, said: “Passengers and freight users are now starting to see and feel the benefit of years of investment in the nation’s railway infrastructure as thousands of new services and new trains join the network.
“Lessons have been learned from last year’s painful experience of bringing new services on-stream. The industry worked closely together on the smooth introduction of the December 2018 and May 2019 timetables, introducing thousands of new weekly services, and we will continue to work with our train operator colleagues to further improve connectivity for passengers.
“At the heart of the changes underway at Network Rail is a new focus on delivering better punctuality and reliability – passengers’ number one priority. We are putting passengers and freight users at the heart of our work and decision making enabling us to respond more quickly to the things that matter most to the people that rely on us every day.”
The state-owned organisation spoke about record levels of investment up 6.2% from last year to £7 billion (almost five times greater than 1998/9) and revenue increased to £6.7 billion from £6.6 billion.
A loss (before tax) of £173 million (£48 million profit last year) was expected and planned for and was a result of the design of the fixed regulatory settlement for 2014-2019, increased train performance penalty payments, increased maintenance spending and increased depreciation and financing costs.