This week saw 2 announcements of funding for the UK Rail Industry
First came the announcement by UK Rail Minister Claire Perry of a £6m funded train operator competition aimed at encouraging innovation among operators and improving services for passengers.
Organised by FutureRailway and funded by the Department for Transport, it is hoped the competition will accelerate research, innovation and development in the rail industry. Passenger numbers continue to increase and expectations of service continue to rise so it is hoped that operators and their supply chains will come up with innovative solutions to address the issues and demands of rail users. In addition, any project will also need to address the future challenges of the rail industry, providing long term solutions. Each project will have to deliver innovative services, processes, designs and technology, from concept to working operational prototype and beyond.
For more details on the competition visit the FutureRailway site
In the budget announcements George Osbourne advised of a number of rail investment initiatives in the North, South West and London. A £7.2bn investment commitment in the South West includes electrifying the First Great Western rail line.
There was also talk of a new franchised Great Western Route which will introduce Intercity Express trains to the tune of £3bn providing more frequent services and faster journey times. A task force is being set up to consider improvements on the Exeter to Salisbury line.
A section of line from Selby to Hull will be electrified with help from Hull Trains. This is part of an ongoing effort to complete the electrification of the route between Hull and Liverpool.
Further funding of £34m from the government, with an additional £16m from Transport for London to develop rail and underground links extending the Metropolitan Line on the London underground to Watford Junction on the West Coast main line.
These investments are, of course adding to the ongoing work already underway by Network Rail who have already made improvements in over 400 stations across the country and have many ongoing projects on various lines.
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