Railtrack promises to invest over pounds 4m a day

Railtrack, the company that owns Britain's track, signalling and stations, will spend more than pounds 4m a day over the next 10 years to resuscitate the nation's vast rail network. The pounds 16bn investment plan involves spending more than pounds 1bn on stations, including building 13 new ones, pounds 2.5bn on track work and more than pounds 2bn on signalling.

The company will have to borrow pounds 2.5bn to finance the spending plans. Sir Robert Horton, the chairman of Railtrack, said that Railtrack would be spending 20 per cent more than British Rail did in its last year of operation spanning 1993/94.

More than 1,500 miles of track will be renewed over the next 10 years as well as 3,500 miles of sleepers. The West Coast mainline - which Richard Branson's Virgin group took over this week - will get a pounds 1.5bn upgrade.

Mike Howell, Railtrack's commercial director, confirmed that the company was also in talks with Mr Branson over a further pounds 150m investment in order to cut the five-hour journey from London to Glasgow by nearly 90 minutes. There are already plans to cut the journey time by 70 minutes.

Four stations will be overhauled. London's Paddington and Waterloo stations, as well as Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central, will have more than pounds 25m spent on them. Nearly 50 stations will get cash injections of pounds 1m.

Leaves on the line will still affect railway services. Railtrack is experimenting with "Swedish scrubbers" - powerful water jets which blast debris from tracks - but will not buy a fleet of vehicles, which would cost pounds 40m, until trials have been successfully completed.

The company is also planning a large capacity freight route from the Channel Tunnel to Scotland. If realised, it could see 30 trains a day using the new service - taking more than 275,000 long-distance lorry journeys from Britain's motorways.

The investment plan comes after John Swift, the rail regulator, recently criticised Rail- track's underspend on infrastructure investment as "wholly unacceptable". Railtrack said yesterday that it did not think there would be a problem with the regulator and that all the outstanding maintenance work would be cleared by 2001.

A spokeswoman for the rail regulator said the new spending plans would be studied. "The key question is what action the company is taking and to ensure the spending results in a better railway," she said.

Labour called on the regulator to go through the spending plans with a fine-tooth comb, adding that the company's track record did not inspire confidence.

A Labour government would be committed to tighter regulation and one option under consideration would see the Treasury controlling Railtrack's income. "I think it it would be unnecessary to change the current arrangements," said Sir Robert.

Save Our Railways, an anti-privatisation lobbying group, said the plans were "very disappointing". Campaigners listed 50 examples of neglect and a spokesman said passengers had suffered "disgusting, dangerous stations as well as slow and unreliable journeys".

Railtrack's main source of income - track access charges levied on the train companies - generates more than pounds 2bn a year. With Railtrack committed to paying an average pounds 1.6bn a year for its investment plans, the spending plans will not dent the company's balance sheet.

Comment, page 19

The new railway age

Railtrack plans to spend pounds 4m on the rail network every day over the next 10 years. Important projects include:

A pounds 1.5bn modernisation of the West Coast Main Line route now run by Richard Branson's Virgin Group

The pounds 580m Thameslink 2000 project to expand and improve the north-south cross-London rail service

A pounds 220m resignalling programme on the Great Eastern route out of London's Liverpool station

Heathrow Express to get pounds 160m spent on track, signalling and electrification work for the high-speed link from London's Paddington station to open next year

pounds 140m of improvements to enable Channel Tunnel Eurostar services to run to regional destinations beyond London through to Scotland

Station renovations worth pounds 100m at Paddington, Waterloo, Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central

Modernisation of the West Anglia line including signal renewal and improved track layouts costing pounds 65m

pounds 40m on better radio communications between train drivers and signal boxes in South-east England

A pounds 40m maintenance programme for the Forth Bridge in Scotland with increased repair and painting work

News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
people
Life and Style
Could you tell the difference between this and an organic alternative?
food + drink

Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction
music
Sport
Today's Liverpool Echo back page
football
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?