Rail bosses are ploughing £2bn into the Welsh and Borders rail network over the next five years as attempts are made to improve the reliability and performance of services.
The money ringfenced for the areas represents a 28% increase in the funding from the previous five-year cycle and is the first time that the specific funding plan has been developed by Network Rail Wales and Borders.
With the focus firmly on maintaining and renewing the existing railway, investment includes £27.7m to improve the railway’s extreme weather resilience, £176m on track renewals and refurbishments and £135m to improve signalling in West Wales.
Included in the projects is a £22m renewal of the “iconic” Grade II Barmouth viaduct, and the delivery of Phase 2 of the Port Talbot re-signalling scheme to improve reliability. . Phase 1 of the scheme was completed earlier this year and included the installation of 160 miles of new cable, 55 new LED digital signals, 160 metres of new track and buffers at Swansea station.
Network Rail will also install new pumps at Sudbrook pumping station, which pumps water from the Severn Tunnel. This will reduce the energy consumed by the pumping station by up to 5%, as well as ensuring that rail services on the South Wales Main Line continue to be safeguarded from flooding.
Commenting on investment, Bill Kelly, route managing director for Network Rail in Wales and Borders, said: “We’ve put passengers and our freight customers first in developing our five-year plan, which will make the railway more reliable for the thousands of people who use it every day. Our focus over the next five years will rightly be on operating a railway people can rely on to get them to their destinations safely and on time, and we will be working closely with Transport for Wales to maximise every investment opportunity for the benefit of our passengers and freight customers.”
The funding will support Transport for Wales’ significant investment of £5bn over 15 years, which will see passengers benefiting from new trains, improved stations and increased capacity across the network.
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO added: “It’s encouraging to see Network Rail committing £2bn to maintain and renew the railway across our Wales and Borders network. At Transport for Wales we have begun our investment plan of £5bn to transform transport across the sector as a result of which passengers will benefit from new trains, improved and new stations and an overall increase in capacity across the network. We are working collaboratively with Network Rail and through this planned investment, we will create a rail service that the people of Wales can be proud of.”