Intercity Express Programme test track part of £4.2bn rail investment programme announced by Network Rail

NEW LINE: The Shildon barnch line will be realigned to provide access to the Hitachi site.

NEW LINE: The Shildon barnch line will be realigned to provide access to the Hitachi site.

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Regional Chief Reporter

NORTH-East rail passengers are set to benefit from a £4.2bn investment to reduce congestion, add more trains and create better stations, rail bosses say.

Network Rail has announced plans for a five-year investment programme to cope with an expected 16 per cent increase in passengers and a 23 per cent rise in freight by the end of the decade.

The improvements include work to support the introduction of the new Intercity Express Programme (IEP) fleet which will be constructed at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

About £247m will be spent on unlocking bottlenecks and improving performance on the East Coast Main Line.

The North-East will also benefit from work on the Northern Hub programme, including trans Pennine electrification and a new line in South Yorkshire.

Network Rail says the improvements will allow up to 700 more trains to run each day across the North of England, providing the space for up to 44 million more passengers a year.

Phil Verster, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “Our railway is a vital part of our national infrastructure.

“Rail services connect homes and workplaces, businesses and markets; they create jobs, stimulate trade and support the growth of a balanced economy.

“Passenger numbers are expected to increase by 16 per cent by 2019. Our investment plans are crucial to making sure we can meet that demand whilst maintaining a safe and reliable service and making the improvements in performance passengers rightly expect.”

Infrastructure including track, signals and bridges will be replaced and renewed.

Officials say the plans also include investment in earthworks and drainage to make the route more resilient in times of extreme weather.

Mr Verster said: “Extreme weather is an increasingly frequent threat to our network, as we have seen with St Jude’s storm last year and the heavy rain and flooding of 2012.

“We have robust plans to target the most vulnerable parts of our route to improve resilience and make sure we are doing everything possible to keep services running whatever the weather.”

Geoff Hunton, from Newcastle-based Merchant Place Developments, the owner and developer of the Newton Aycliffe site where the IEP trains will be built by Hitachi, said the work planned by Network Rail was vital for the project.

“They will be realigning the Shildon branch line so we can get access into the Hitachi storage area and the facility itself.

“In addition they will be providing 1.1km of test track. The work is vital for the programme.”

Network Rail said it would continue its programme of closing level crossings and making improvements when closure was not an option.

“Our investment programme over the next five years will help to address the issues of congestion and ageing infrastructure to help drive up train performance,” Mr Verster added.

*See tomorrow's (Tuesday, April 1) Northern Echo for a piece by Mr Verster about the importance of the investment for the region.

Comments (5)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

12:17am Mon 31 Mar 14

Voice-of-reality says...

Excellent news - if they could restore silver service to First class - it would be a truly wondeful return to a golden age of train travel.
Excellent news - if they could restore silver service to First class - it would be a truly wondeful return to a golden age of train travel. Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 0

8:28am Mon 31 Mar 14

Graeme_r says...

I wonder if the work includes enabling the east coast mainline to support 140 mph journey speeds that current locomotives are capable of?
I wonder if the work includes enabling the east coast mainline to support 140 mph journey speeds that current locomotives are capable of? Graeme_r
  • Score: 0

9:38am Mon 31 Mar 14

David Lacey says...

I doubt it Graeme. Massive resignalling is needed to enable 140 mph running although - as you say - the IC225s are quite capable of doing so. Another issue is the mix of trains sharing the ECML. Other 125 mph services operated by East Coat HSTs and Cross Country Voyagers are NOT able to do 140 mph. We need the ripped up four track sections to be replaced and new signals. As for VORs silver service wishes - how I love the idea. There is an application to run an hourly open access service from Edinburgh to Kings Cross on the table from a new operator using the GNER name and Pendolino trains. If they get that approved the existing operators will have genuine competition And as we know that is the ultimate driver behind improved standards.
I doubt it Graeme. Massive resignalling is needed to enable 140 mph running although - as you say - the IC225s are quite capable of doing so. Another issue is the mix of trains sharing the ECML. Other 125 mph services operated by East Coat HSTs and Cross Country Voyagers are NOT able to do 140 mph. We need the ripped up four track sections to be replaced and new signals. As for VORs silver service wishes - how I love the idea. There is an application to run an hourly open access service from Edinburgh to Kings Cross on the table from a new operator using the GNER name and Pendolino trains. If they get that approved the existing operators will have genuine competition And as we know that is the ultimate driver behind improved standards. David Lacey
  • Score: 3

11:29am Mon 31 Mar 14

cushybutterfield says...

We at least it will create yet MORE NEW JOBS and opportunities for those willing and wanting to work. There was such much pathetic British **negativity years ago about the' Channel Tunnel Rail Link's (Switzerland had miles of huge tunnels under mountains for years before the Channel Tunnel was ever thought of). Anyhow the C>T> and 'adjoining high speed rail-link' from London, one of the greatest engineering and British Railway Success stories in the world. To date the CT has carried over TEN MILLION passengers not counting the millions of tons of freight. About time this Country modernised but beware of the negativity of 'some stone age' British Unions.
We at least it will create yet MORE NEW JOBS and opportunities for those willing and wanting to work. There was such much pathetic British **negativity years ago about the' Channel Tunnel Rail Link's (Switzerland had miles of huge tunnels under mountains for years before the Channel Tunnel was ever thought of). Anyhow the C>T> and 'adjoining high speed rail-link' from London, one of the greatest engineering and British Railway Success stories in the world. To date the CT has carried over TEN MILLION passengers not counting the millions of tons of freight. About time this Country modernised but beware of the negativity of 'some stone age' British Unions. cushybutterfield
  • Score: 0

2:37pm Mon 31 Mar 14

cushybutterfield says...

When the 'German Tiger Tanks' and associated 'Heavy Metal' arrives in Britain via the Channel Tunnel can we redirect this 'hardware' to the Somerset levels to dredge the rivers, some of which have NOT been dredged since 196O. Yet CLEGG and his liberals okay yet further BILLIONS for OVERSEAS AID much of which is corruptly syphoned off by foreign regimes.
When the 'German Tiger Tanks' and associated 'Heavy Metal' arrives in Britain via the Channel Tunnel can we redirect this 'hardware' to the Somerset levels to dredge the rivers, some of which have NOT been dredged since 196O. Yet CLEGG and his liberals okay yet further BILLIONS for OVERSEAS AID much of which is corruptly syphoned off by foreign regimes. cushybutterfield
  • Score: -2

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree