Twice as many passengers and a doubling of freight by 2035 is predicted in a new document published today, looking at long term planning for the rail industry, ‘Planning Ahead’.
With our roads getting more congested and the need to move to a ‘carbon-friendly’ economy, the demand for rail – for moving people and goods – will continue to grow.
Paul Plummer, Network Rail’s director of planning and development, said: “Despite the tough economic times, we must continue to plan for the future and look to how we affordably expand the railway to meet big increases in passengers and freight. The railway is presently too expensive and must reduce its costs to ensure that the money it does invest delivers best value for Britain.”
Over the next 25 years the London commuter market, already very well served by rail, is likely to see growth of up to 35%. In contrast, regional urban commuting, to cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds Glasgow, is expected to see growth of over 100%, with growth on some route predicted to be in excess of 115%. Rail freight is similarly predicted to double demand to 45 billion tonnes kilometres of goods moved by 2030.
Alec McTavish, director of policy and operations at the Association of Train Operating Companies said: “Rail makes a vital contribution to the UK economy, supporting jobs, businesses and helping millions of people to get round the country quickly and easily every day.
“Value for money for the taxpayer and the passenger needs to be at the heart of everything that we do. Train operators and Network Rail are working increasingly closely together to help plan the railway and identify ways to improve cost effectiveness, whilst fully recognising the distinctive role that each plays in this. As our proposals on franchise reform have shown, allowing Network Rail and operators greater freedom to determine the most efficient way of delivering for passengers and making Britain’s railway more financially self-sufficient would be to the benefit of the nation as a whole.”
Lindsay Durham, chair of the Rail Freight Operators’ Association, said: “Rail freight contributes to the success of the UK economy by reliably and sustainably moving goods for consumers and industry within the UK and as a conduit for imports and exports. Freight trains are part of the logistics chain that stocks our shops, keeps the lights on and moves materials to build our infrastructure. We are pleased to work with our rail industry partners to plan a more efficient network that will enable growth and help to remove more lorries from Great Britain’s roads”