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Railways: Finance

Treasury written question – answered on 18th July 2013.

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Photo of Tristram Hunt Tristram Hunt Shadow Minister (Education)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer Pursuant to the oral answer from the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to the hon. Member for Bristol West of 25 June 2013, Official Report, column 151, on infrastructure investment, what the evidential basis was for the statement that the Government is undertaking the largest investment in the railways since Victorian times.

Photo of Danny Alexander Danny Alexander The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

This Government is spending more than £64 billion on the railway in the 10 years between 2010 and 2020.

This sum includes the c£16 billion recently committed to capital expenditure in HS2 between 2015-16 and 2020-21, and the c£1 5 billion funding provided to Crossrail. It also includes over £32 billion support for the rail network from 2010, projected out to 2019—which includes support for the delivery of the over £9 billion programme of enhancements announced July 2012.

The British railways developed in the Victorian era and early 20th century into over a hundred medium to large sized railway undertakings and the majority of these were grouped into four main privately-owned companies in 1923. Each of these companies had its own investment plans and cycles. These four companies were merged and nationalised in 1947. Prior to the publication of the Rail Investment Strategy (RIS) in July 2012, the only comparable national rail investment plan since the Victorian era was the 1955 British Rail modernisation plan.

The Government judges the current plans to be a larger scale investment than the 1955 plan for the following reasons:

The 1955 plan covered the whole rail industry including rolling stock and operations, whereas the RIS covers just rail infrastructure;

The enhancement component of the 1955 plan at today's values is calculated to be less than £15 billion; and

Delivery of the RIS will take just five years, whereas the 1955 plan included improvements which slipped into the 1970s or were never delivered.

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