Urban commuting set to soar

Train passenger numbers in Britain could double in the next 25 years, according to a rail industry planning document.

Regional urban commuting to cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow is expected to see growth of more than 100 per cent, with growth on some routes of 115 per cent.

In London, where commuting by rail is already very well-established, numbers are set to grow by 35 per cent by 2035, the document forecasts.

Moreover, the amount of freight moved by rail could double even sooner, to 45 billion tonne-kilometres of goods moved, by 2030.

Entitled 'Planning Ahead: the long term planning framework', the document was prepared by an industry steering group, led by Network Rail (NR), the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) and the Rail Freight Operators' Association. It is intended to help inform decisions that the government and the regulator will need to make for control period 5 (CP5 – the next regulatory funding period running from 2014-2019).

NR's planning and development director Paul Plummer said: "Despite the tough economic times, we must continue to plan for the future and look to how we affordably expand the railway to meet big increases in passengers and freight.

"The railway is presently too expensive and must reduce its costs to ensure that the money it does invest delivers best value for Britain."

Atoc policy and operations director Alec McTavish said: "Rail makes a vital contribution to the UK economy, supporting jobs, businesses and helping millions of people to get round the country quickly and easily every day.

"Value for money for the taxpayer and the passenger needs to be at the heart of everything that we do. Train operators and NR are working increasingly closely together to help plan the railway and identify ways to improve cost effectiveness, whilst fully recognising the distinctive role that each plays in this."

'Planning Ahead: the long term planning framework'

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