Network Rail unveils multi-billion pound plan for the railway route from Waterloo station to the south coast

  • Around £2bn planned spend up to 2024 on one of the UK’s busiest stretches of railway
  • Increase of 22% in funding to help reduce delays and improve reliability for Portsmouth passengers
  • More opportunity for third party investors in Hampshire, making more projects possible  

Network Rail today published its ambitious five-year plan to improve the Wessex railway route, covered by South Western Railway, from next year to 2024.

The publication of the Strategic Business Plan (SBP) is a major milestone in the ongoing process to determine Network Rail’s funding requirements for the five years to 2024 (Control Period 6, CP6). The plan represents Network Rail’s initial, but detailed view, following the publication of Governments (England & Wales and Scotland) high level output specifications (HLOS) and statements of funds available (SoFA). The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) will now review the plan and make a draft determination of Network Rail’s funding needs in June, and a final determination in the autumn.

The plan will help drive economic growth, jobs and housing across the region by delivering a better railway for the millions of people who rely on it. 

This investment will mean the route is more reliable, more cost efficient and delivers more capacity. It will also help us build on the UK’s reputation for running the safest railway in Europe.

Becky Lumlock, route managing director for Network Rail’s Wessex route, said:

“This ambitious plan will help us deliver a more reliable service for the millions of people who travel on the route every day, from Waterloo to Portsmouth, and beyond.

“Our stretch of railway is one the busiest and most congested in the UK – we’re already running at capacity with 230 million passenger journey a year, and that number is only set to rise. This investment will help us meet this growing demand head-on.

“Whether we’re replacing old Victorian bridges, modernising high risk level crossings or digitising our analogue signalling systems, every penny we spend will be about making a positive difference to people’s journeys.”

A more efficient, reliable railway: 

Our alliance with South Western Railway will see more joint teams working to manage the service as we continue to move all our operations into the state of the art Rail Operating Centre in Basingstoke.

Investing in the very latest railway technology will mean we can fix more problems proactively and faster, causing less disruption for our passengers.

Our work to renew old Victorian railway bridges, modernise or close level crossings and digitise our signalling systems will mean a more efficient, safer railway for everyone.    

An expanding railway:

In December this year we will complete the £800 million Waterloo and South West Upgrade, increasing Waterloo station’s capacity by 30% at peak times as we reopen the former Waterloo International Terminal.

Other projects to further enhance the railway would require additional funding and will be developed on a case-by-case basis and developed to a mature level before seeking funding.

A more affordable railway:

Our route will be less dependent on the public purse as we explore more third party funding opportunities.

A range of station improvements and new crossings have already been supported on our route through third party funding.

We will continue to work closely with potential investors to help us deliver more exciting infrastructure projects in the future.

A safer railway:

Network Rail’s hard won passenger safety record means it already runs the safest major railway in Europe.

New technology will mean we can keep our people off the track more of the time, including a new system that allows us to cut power on the railway line on Wessex remotely.

Today’s national plan shows how the whole of Network Rail will reduce the risk of a train accident across the country by a further 10% through better inspection techniques and better asset management, as well as making further significant strides in workforce safety.