The companies running the railway in the West of England have come together today to set out their long-term plan for the region’s railway, which will secure £9.45bn of additional economic benefits for communities along the Great Western main line.
In the plan, the partnership railway of public and private sector companies outlines their commitments to improving services for customers, better connecting communities and providing employees with rewarding careers, as well as boosting the region’s economy.
The plan, called In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity – The West of England sets out how £2.4bn invested in operating, maintaining and renewing the railway between 2019-2024 is enabling new and improved services. These will better connect people and businesses to key economic hubs in the region and beyond to London, Wales, the Midlands and the North. This is in addition to existing upgrades to electrify the Great Western main line and around £500m of private investment in a brand-new fleet of intercity trains to increase the frequency, quality and speed of journeys.
To deliver the plan’s commitment to boost communities through localised decision making and investment, the partnership railway will deliver £50m of station and car park investment to improve and enhance the gateways to the villages, towns and cities the railway serves. Customer and Communities Funds from Great Western Railway and CrossCountry will see £4.5m spent on projects that meet social needs, educate or engage local people, like bringing disused buildings back to life, developing history or heritage activities or encouraging bicycle use.
The plan will see the creation of more than 250 apprenticeships in the decade to 2024, part of a ‘Get into Railways’ scheme developed with The Prince’s Trust. This is in addition to apprenticeships created by rail businesses based across the West.
The Western route is already the second busiest freight route into the capital and by continuing work to support ‘jumbo’ aggregate trains that increase the amount of freight that can be moved in one go, the partnership railway’s plan will also free up additional capacity for more trains to run.
“The railway is a crucial piece of the region’s infrastructure, moving the people and goods that power our economy faster and more efficiently, connecting businesses in the West of England to markets all over the world. By supporting our existing talent, moving forward as one team and encouraging new recruits with workforce training, we are securing a bright future for our employees and the communities in which they live and work.”
Route Managing Director for Network Rail’s Western Route