Network Rail’s Western route reveals five year £multi-billion plan to improve the railway and increase services in the South West

  • Proposed £2bn+ plan to maintain and improve the railway in the Western region between 2019 and 2024
  • Plans include supporting an additional 140,000 more trains per year from 2019 and working ever more closely with operators to improve reliability across the route by more than 11%
  • Target of 6% efficiency, creating potential savings of over £100m

Network Rail’s Western route today published its ambitious five-year plan to operate, maintain and renew (OMR) the region’s railway over the five years to 2024 (Control Period 6, CP6).

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 Western plan will support the delivery of 140,000 new services each year for passengers, quicker journeys and new connections. The £2bn+ plan will drive economic growth, jobs and housing by delivering a better railway for the millions of people who rely on it.

Mark Langman, Western route managing director, said: “Passengers journeys will be transformed from 2019 with 140,000 new services each year across the route, better connecting communities and driving economic growth.

“Today we set out our plans to improve the railways of the Thames Valley, Cotswold and West and South West of England in the five years to 2024. The plan will support the ushering in of the new digital age of the railway, and the planned increase in passenger and freight services enabled by the new infrastructure built in the last five years.”

Passengers in the South West will also benefit from continuing resilience work to protect the railway from extreme weather; particularly at Teignmouth, Dawlish and flood-prone areas and sea defences will be bolstered.

Improved track between Totnes and Plymouth would also see faster journeys and better journey times to Cornwall. The plan will also support increased GWR services between Plymouth and Penzance, with two new trains per hour in each direction.

The plan sets our targets to improve the reliability of the railway’s assets (signals, points and track amongst others) by more than 11% and thus reduce delays and deliver better train reliability for passengers and freight users.  

Mr Langman continued: “We recognise that as a public service we have to spend money wisely, make efficiencies where possible and plan better. Therefore we have a plan within this period to deliver 6% efficiencies that could result in savings of over £100m.

“We will also continue to work day and night to keep our railway as the safest in Europe. Our five year plan includes measures to manage and reduce risks to passengers and railway users across the route, including investing around £70m to improve safety at level crossings.

“It is an ambitious, but realistic plan that is not without challenge. We will continue to work closely with train and freight operating companies, bringing track and train together, to deliver a better railway for passengers, businesses and the communities we serve.”