The Government has ambitious plans for rail which is why Network Rail has been allocated a record £38 billion for the period from 2014-2019. It is for Network Rail to determine precisely how much will be allocated to the rail investment programme in the North of England but the Secretary of State expects that the committed programme set out in the High Level Output Specification ([Rail Investment Strategy]) will be delivered. The government’s enhancements programme is an ambitious and stretching programme and it needs to be re-planned to ensure it remains deliverable and affordable, which is the task that has been asked of Sir Peter Hendy.
However, the franchising programme will continue to deliver for passengers and taxpayers as planned and live procurements, including Northern and Transpennine Express, which will transform rail services across the region with more service, capacity and the scrapping of Pacers, will not be affected. Other rail investments in the north also continue to be delivered; for example the electrification of the lines between Liverpool and Manchester and Liverpool and Wigan has already been completed and there will be the roll-out of state of the art Intercity Express trains on the East Coast route during this Parliament.
Transpennine electrification remains a major part of our economic plan for the region, but it is vital that Network Rail gets this right. The Secretary of State has already explained to MPs (Transport Select Committee evidence March 2015), this means the project will not be completed by 2019, as originally proposed. However, compromising on the scope of this project would not be in passengers’ best interests. That is why we continue to work with Network Rail on revised plans so that it delivers the best possible results.