Last week, the Government published a document called ‘Connecting people: a strategic vision for rail.’
This document describes the Governments vision for the railways. It sets out an aim to bring the organisations that run the tracks and trains closer together, in order to deliver better services for passengers.
As set out in this document, the Government are pressing ahead with Network Rail devolution to a series of route based business. In addition, they are investing in upgrades to the network to deliver faster journey times, more capacity, and unlock growth. The Department of Transport will also work to improve customer experience, including smart ticketing.
This Government is set to spend up to £34.7bn in the five years from 2019 to 2024 to fund a £47.9bn overhaul of the network in England and Wales. This will include a huge increase in asset renewals which will improve reliability and reduce disruption.
This document contains some good news in relation to train travel in the East Midlands which will be beneficial to many people in Mid-Derbyshire. The Department of Transport will publish an Invitation to Tender in 2018. This will look to Network Rail and bidders to work collaboratively to meet the challenges of operating a franchise on multi-user infrastructure that also operates across many Network Rail route boundaries. It will build on the new approach being introduced for South Eastern and will go alongside investment in the Midland Mainline and new bi-mode trains.
This investment will reduce journey times between key cities by up to 20 minutes and add over 1,000 more seats an hour in the peak to and from St Pancras, an increase of more than 50%.
From 2020 the new franchise will also provide a new dedicated fast commuter service between Corby, Kettering and London St Pancras.
The Government have also provided Midlands Connect with £5m funding to develop a business case for a Midlands Rail Hub. This is a programme of rail upgrades that could provide up to 10 more trains per hour into central Birmingham.
In addition, the Government remain committed to building a new generation of high capacity railways in the form of HS2. HS2 will be the ‘transformational new backbone’ for the network, as well as freeing up capacity elsewhere. The Government have committed an additional £300m towards linking HS2 with future Northern Powerhouse and Midlands rail projects.