Plans for £2bn investment to improve the railway for passengers across Wales and Borders have been published by Network Rail. The plan represents a 28 per cent increase in spending compared to the last funding period (2014-2019) to increase reliability and improve performance over the next five years.
It is the first time that the Wales and Borders funding plan has been developed by Network Rail Wales and Borders and is made up of over a thousand local schemes designed to deliver improvements for as many passengers as possible.
The plan is focused on maintaining and renewing the existing railway to improve train punctuality and reliability for passengers. This includes investing an additional £27.7m to improve the railway’s extreme weather resilience, £176m on track renewals and refurbishments and £135m to improve signalling in West Wales.
Major improvement work will include investing £22m to renew the iconic Grade II listed Barmouth viaduct and delivering Phase 2 of the Port Talbot re-signalling scheme to improve reliability on this part of the network. Phase 1 of the project was completed earlier this year and included the installation of 160 miles of new cable, 55 new LED digital signals, 160 metres of new track and buffers at Swansea station.
Network Rail will also install new pumps at Sudbrook pumping station, which pumps water from the Severn Tunnel. This will reduce the energy consumed by the pumping station by up to 5 per cent, as well as ensuring that rail services on the South Wales Main Line continue to be safeguarded from flooding.
The funding will support Transport for Wales’ significant investment of £5bn over 15 years, which will see passengers benefiting from new trains, improved stations and increased capacity across the network.
Bill Kelly, route managing director for Network Rail in Wales and Borders, said: “We’ve put passengers and our freight customers first in developing our five-year plan, which will make the railway more reliable for the thousands of people who use it every day.
“Our focus over the next five years will rightly be on operating a railway people can rely on to get them to their destinations safely and on time, and we will be working closely with Transport for Wales to maximise every investment opportunity for the benefit of our passengers and freight customers.”
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO said: “It’s encouraging to see Network Rail committing £2bn to maintain and renew the railway across our Wales and Borders network. At Transport for Wales we have begun our investment plan of £5bn to transform transport across the sector as a result of which passengers will benefit from new trains, improved and new stations and an overall increase in capacity across the network.
“The customer experience is at the heart of our decision making and planning as we continue to move forward and deliver our vision. We are working collaboratively with Network Rail and through this planned investment, we will create a rail service that the people of Wales can be proud of.”