Britain’s railway network has been growing exponentially for years now. With record numbers of travellers using it more and more each year, it’s not surprising that it’s begging to show the signs of strain.
If you’ve ever used a busy commuter route in one of our bigger cities, you’ll know how difficult it is to get a seat. Sometimes even standing is difficult as people are crammed into stuffy carriages and jostle for position.
The thing is, rail is good for Britain. It is the lifeline that keeps us going and it’s not just people, but freight that benefits from a healthy network. So investment is needed.
However, the expected investment required has spiralled out of control, and so the Hendy Report aims to address this.
Faced with this funding crisis, Network Rail have also made a commitment to help towards the cost, and it appears that ll infrastructure schemes will go ahead.
Why is investment needed?
The main problem is that there has been a lack of investment in many parts of the rail infrastructure for decades now.
Some of it dates back nearly 200 years, with some signalling equipment (obviously critical for safety) dating from the 60s.
Along with repairing key parts of the infrastructure to handle higher capacity, there will be an increase in the number of trains on key parts of the network, an increase in train length (new carriages) and more frequent trains between stations.
In some places, there is a target of 40% increase in peak hour capacity.
One of the largest projects of current times is the modernising of the Great Western route. This aims to create more reliable, faster trains with greater freight capacity and better stations.
The electrification of the railway brings many benefits, including faster, greener trains, together with greater reliability.
As the government is aiming to spread the wealth across the whole country, rather than it being centred on London, this is a welcome development. Making it easier for people to leave the city, as well as making commuting to it less hassle, means wealth can be spread.
Electric trains bring better benefits all round. They have more seats than diesel ones and provide smoother journeys. They’re also far better for the environment bringing lower carbon emissions and therefore improving air quality, especially in busy stations.
They’re also much quieter, which is a boon for people living near tracks.
Investment in the railways is important and necessary for Britain’s economic growth. With greater freight capacity, cleaner trains and better rolling stock, this next stage of development will be a critical time for everyone involved in the industry.