The government will invest in more than 2,100 new rail carriages for Britain’s railways by 2019, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond announced today (26 November 2010) as he unveiled plans to modernise the rail network, tackle overcrowding, improve reliability and speed up journeys.
Mr Hammond confirmed that London’s Thameslink project will go ahead in its entirety at a total capital cost of around £6 billion, as will £900 million of rail electrification projects on lines between London and Didcot, Newbury and Oxford as well as between Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Blackpool. In addition to the 2,100 new carriages, Britain is also to get a new fleet of intercity trains, replacing the ageing 30 year old ‘Intercity 125s’ on the Great Western and East Coast main lines, the Transport Secretary announced.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said:
At a time of severe pressure on public spending, it would be tempting to cut back on investment in our railways. But we cannot afford not to invest in Britain’s future.
We have already committed to the Crossrail project and to £14 billion to support capital maintenance and investment in our railways over the next four years. Today I can confirm that the Thameslink project will go ahead in its entirety and I can announce 650 further carriages to reduce overcrowding. In total this amounts to 2,100 new carriages which will help make our railways fit for the 21st century.
In total the government will deliver more than 2,100 new rail carriages onto the network by May 2019. Of these, 1,800 will be for new Crossrail and Thameslink services. This will in turn free up hundreds of existing electric carriages to be deployed onto the newly electrified lines by franchised train operators. In total, there will be at least 1,850 net additional carriages on the network by 2019. The government will now enter into commercial negotiations with the franchised operators about the allocation of the unallocated element of 650 further carriages for delivery before 2014. Subject to those negotiations, the government expects additional carriages to be added on services into Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol, London Paddington and London Waterloo.
The Thameslink project will virtually double the number of north-south trains running through central London during the busiest times and provides new links between towns and cities north and south of the capital without the need to change trains in London. The programme includes the rebuilding of three major London stations, including London Bridge. The Thameslink Programme will be reprofiled, enabling Network Rail to deliver the works in a more efficient manner, improving the scheme’s value for money and reducing potential risks. Passengers will, however, benefit from incremental improvements as work on the project continues to advance.
Electrification of the railway lines between London and Reading, Didcot, Newbury and Oxford, as well as between Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Blackpool will allow the current diesel trains to be replaced with electric vehicles. Electric trains are cleaner, quieter and more reliable than diesels as well as providing more seats. They are also cheaper to buy, operate and maintain. The government supports further electrification of the rail network and will continue to consider the case for further electrification schemes, including on the Midland Main Line.
Most of Britain’s ageing Intercity 125 ‘high speed trains’ are to be retired, Mr Hammond also announced. Plans to introduce a new generation of trains through the ‘Intercity Express Programme’ (IEP) have been under review by the government since February. The government has now ruled out simply refurbishing the existing trains and has also ruled out requiring passengers to interchange from electric to diesel trains at stations where electric lines end. Two alternative options remain under consideration: a revised and lower cost IEP bid from Agility Trains (Hitachi and John Laing), which envisages a mixture of electric trains and ‘hybrid’ trains with both electric and diesel engines; and a new proposal for a fleet of new all-electric trains which could be coupled to new diesel locomotives where the overhead electric power lines end. The government will be in a position to make an announcement on further electrification of the Great Western Main Line once this review is complete.
2100 new carriages
The 2,100 new carriages includes vehicles for the Thameslink and Crossrail projects as well as extra carriages to be delivered by franchised train operators.
Although franchised train operators are free to introduce extra carriages at any time at their own expense, there are no contractual obligations on train operators to introduce additional carriages where there is crowding. Therefore, if the train operator does not feel it can recover the additional costs of running the extra carriages from passenger revenues they are unlikely to introduce additional carriages.
This is why the government is intervening. The government will now enter into commercial negotiations with train operators over the costs of running the additional carriages and therefore cannot publish exact numbers of carriages for each route at this time.
The Thameslink Programme will make travelling across London and the south east easier and quicker. It will reduce crowding on some of the busiest sections of London’s transport network and introduce a new generation of electric commuter trains, carrying up to 1750 passengers.
The first stage of the Thameslink Programme is already under construction. Building work is already well underway at Farringdon and Blackfriars stations, and platform extension work has been completed at many locations including Luton Airport Parkway and St Albans. This first stage will enable some longer 12 carriage trains to operate on the Bedford to Brighton route from December 2011.
The second stage involves the reconstruction of London Bridge station and its approaches and a new connection to the East Coast Main Line just to the north of St Pancras. This stage will deliver 24 trains per hour in both directions through the central London core section, as well as longer 12 carriage operation to a range of destinations to the north and south of London from
The new trains required for the programme will require an order of around 1,200 new carriages. Two bidders, Bombardier and Siemens, remain in the competition. A preferred bidder is expected to be announced in spring 2011.
The capital cost for the new infrastructure and the new rolling stock is estimated to cost around £6 billion. Previously a range of £5.5 billion to £6 billion was given as further development of the project was required before a firmer figure could be provided. The next phase of development work for both infrastructure and rolling stock has now been completed therefore enabling a more definite view of expected cost.
On the Great Western Main Line, the government is confirming today that the lines between London and Didcot, Oxford and Newbury will be electrified. In the North West, the routes between Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Blackpool will be electrified. In more detail, that will include:
- Liverpool to Manchester via Newton-le-Willows
- Huyton to Wigan
- Preston to Blackpool
- Manchester to Preston
- the Great Western electrification is expected to cost up to £600 million, and the package of electrification in the North West will cost up to £300 million.
- electrification to Didcot, Oxford and Newbury is expected to be completed by 2016. Electrification between Manchester and the West Coast Main Line is expected to be completed by the end of 2013, allowing electric trains to run on the Manchester - Scotland route with the other lines in the North West following in sequence by 2016.
Intercity Express Programme
The DfT has been considering the question of new intercity rolling stock to replace the existing Intercity 125s for some time. In February 2009 the Agility Trains consortium was identified by the government as preferred bidder to build a new fleet of intercity trains. In February 2009 the government invited Sir Andrew Foster, former head of the Audit Commission, to provide an independent assessment of the value for money of the programme. Sir Andrew presented his report to DfT in June 2010 recommending further study of both the Agility Trains proposal and the alternatives.
Following today’s announcement, two options remain under consideration, which are:
- the Agility Trains’ revised bid, for a mixed fleet of some all-electric trains, and some electric trains which are also equipped with underfloor diesel generators.
- a proposal for a fleet of new all-electric trains which could be coupled to new diesel locomotives where the overhead electric power lines end.
Table 1: Additional rail carriages - the 2008 Plan
This table sets out the 2008 rolling stock plan, together with the number of additional vehicles that were in service on 6 May 2010.
||Jan 08 Plan
||In service by May 10
||National Express East Coast
||First Capital Connect
||East Midlands Trains
||Intercity West Coast
||First Great Western
||England - Total
There were 10 additional vehicles in Northern in May 2010 but at the time they were paid for by GMPTE. These are now being paid for by DfT.
Table 2: New vehicles from May 2010
New vehicles on the national rail network in England and Wales that will be introduced after 6 May 2010 and up to May 2019.
|New vehicles after May 2010
|Intercity West Coast
||Class 390 (Pendolino)
|National Express East Anglia
||Class 379 (Stansted Express)
||Class 172 (West Midlands)
||Procurement due to start soon
|Services between Manchester and Scotland
||New electric multiple units - subject to negotiation
||Class 172 diesel multiple units
Note: We are discussing with London Midland whether there is a case for more new trains in their franchise. This has not concluded yet.
Table 3 - Net additional vehicles from May 2010
The introduction of new vehicles allows existing vehicles to be cascaded and used on other parts of the network. Some vehicles will also be returned to the leasing companies. The table below sets out the approximate, net additional number of vehicles between May 2010 and May 2019 on the England and Wales rail network.
|Net Additional vehicles from May 2010
|Franchise operators to 2014