Network Rail has recently announced a £37bn, 5 year plan to develop the UK railways infrastructure. This plan’s objective is to provide faster journeys covering more than 170,000 commuter seats during peak hours and will improve reliability. Passenger Focus, a consumer group, voiced its approval of the plan and welcomes the investment, however, it said that it is vital to maintain the control on travel costs.
Network Rail concurs and stated that they aim to reduce the expenses involved in running and maintaining the railways of the country by 18%, and slash the public subsidy to a little less than £3bn by 2019. These plans will only be possible and affordable if Network Rail is able to make those savings. They also assume that fares will also rise according to the inflation, and this would help pay for the savings.
Though ambitious, this wish list for the Network Rail can certainly make a huge difference to the passengers, however, money will surely be an issue. For one, the Network Rail will need to save up to £3 from 2014 to 2019. This is a huge challenge, and will mean undergoing extra pressure so as not to go into unnecessary compromises on jobs or safety just to achieve good results.
The factors involved in raising this amount of savings include low inflation, high passenger demand, a steady commercial properties market, and sticking to fares policy provided by the Government. Currently, none of those factors remain certain, which also means that these plans might go down the drain if something goes terribly wrong.
Richard Westcott, a BBC correspondent for transport, commented that this move could mean more price hikes for the next six years, and this is on top of what the passengers have been experiencing during the past 10 years.