Network Rail Announces 20-Year Plan

Network Rail has issued its 20-year plan to transform rail travel in Northern England. Train operators Northern and First TransPennine Express have been working alongside Network Rail on the strategy for the future of rail travel, and the manifesto document includes:

· Double the number of fast and semi-fast services between major cities in the north

· Quicker journeys

· High-speed rail reaching major cities in the north

By 2020, Network Rail wants to make rail the preferred choice for commuters and businesses right across the north, with faster, more frequent and comfortable journeys helping to attract more people and jobs to the north.

The railway in the north of England has already seen unprecedented growth in recent years. In the northwest, passengers journeys increased by 20 percent between 1999 and 2005, and in the Yorkshire and Humber region the growth was a massive 60 percent in the nine years to 2007/8.

This growth is set to continue with a predicted 44 percent increase in peak hour travel between Liverpool and Manchester by 2018, and 50 percent increase over the same period for Yorkshire and the Humber.

Over the next year, Network Rail will set out precisely how it intends to meet the ambitions of the north:

· The “Rail in the north” study to be published in January 2010 will set out the key infrastructure improvements Network Rail needs to put in place before 2020

· The “Northern Route Utilisation Strategy” (RUS) will explain how to make the best use of the network

· The next new lines study will look at the business case for dedicated high speed lines to Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle.

Improvements to the rail network could bring economic benefits to the north of England of between $19.4 billion and $25.9 billion over the next 60 years.