Scotland’s railway set for mammoth £4.2 billion upgrade

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NETWORK Rail Scotland has unveiled a £4.2 billion five-year investment plan to improve the country’s railway.

Major investments will be made in renewing infrastructure, tackling climate change, greater use of technology, enhancing train performance, boosting passenger and freight numbers, and supporting greater resilience of the network during extreme weather.

More than £1.9 billion of the investment will made in renewals which will drive improvements in safety and reliability, this will include continued use of the UK’s first 24/7 weather desk, new visualisation tools, and remote condition monitoring to spot problems early.

The investment in climate change mitigation will improve the resilience of the rail network to the increasing impact of extreme weather, Network Rail added. Longer-term climate change adaptation strategies will be developed, with this helping the organisation understand the impact of climate change on the railway.

Scotland’s net zero targets will also be supported through the investment, with the railway being decarbonised and more passengers and businesses being encouraged to choose rail as part of their sustainable journey. An 8.7% growth is being targeted in freight, with a single freight train taking 129 heavy goods vehicles off the road.

Network Rail added that it will reduce the net cost of the railway by making ‘every penny’ of the investment count. The organisation added that  the plan reflects the current economic reality and focuses on creating an efficient railway that delivers value for taxpayers, while prioritising safety, reliability and performance.

In February this year, the Scottish Government published its high level output statement (HLOS) and statement of funds available (SoFA) detailing what it wants Scotland’s Railway to deliver and how much funding was available to make that happen.

Funding for enhancements to the railway are not included in this settlement, but Network Rail said Scotland’s Railway will continue to deliver a greener railway and support the Scottish Government’s net zero ambitions.

Liam Sumpter, Network Rail Scotland’s route director, said, “We’re delighted by the Scottish Government’s continued support for the railway. Over the next five years, we’ll work hard to provide a safe, greener and more reliable railway for Scotland.

“Our plan is ambitious and focuses on the needs of our customers while reflecting the necessity to deliver greater value for taxpayer money. We’re committed to delivering a railway that people can rely on and supports the social and economic growth of the nation.”