Some nice train tracks, yesterday

6,400 more train services per week by 2021, according to rail research

Image credit: PA Mediapoint

While it may be of small comfort to commuters pressed cheek by jowl on a daily basis in the intervening years, according to the latest UK rail industry analysis it is estimated that approximately 6,400 additional train services will be running every week by 2021.

The ongoing £50 billion investment in the UK’s rail network will result in an 11 per cent rise in the number of weekday services, according to the research. Operators are already running more than 1,350 more trains each week compared with four years ago, the study found.

The figures were released by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), representing train companies and Network Rail. Many of the extra services anticipated may in fact begin operating by 2019.

The additional services include:

  • An increase in train frequency for London commuters and those on high-speed England to Scotland routes.
  • A better timetable for passengers using the Edinburgh to Glasgow and TransPennine routes.
  • Further improvements covering Kent, the Midlands, the North West, the West Country and Wales.

The ability to run more trains is one of the key benefits of south-east England’s Thameslink Programme and Crossrail project.

As many commuters will doubtless have already noticed, punctuality on Britain’s rail network is at its lowest point in over a decade. More than one in 10 trains (12.3 per cent) failed to reach their destinations on time last year, according to the Office of Rail and Road.

This is the worst performance for a 12-month period since the year ending September 2006, when the figure reached 12.5 per cent.

The latest passenger survey by Transport Focus in autumn last year revealed that just 81 per cent are satisfied with the railways, a figure which has not been lower since the Spring of 2007.

RDG chief executive Paul Plummer said, “Rail is an ever more vital public service, enabling jobs, housing and economic growth. But there’s a capacity crunch affecting the railway, with journeys having doubled in 20 years and the number of trains increasing, too.

“That’s why we’re delivering billions of pounds of improvements and reversing decades of under-investment.

“The £50 billion-plus Railway Upgrade Plan will help ease the congestion on Britain’s railway.

“It will break bottlenecks, untangle tracks and harness technology so that more trains can run to more places more often, creating new opportunities and supporting jobs.”

Lianna Etkind of the Campaign for Better Transport welcomed the increase in trains as it would “ease the overcrowding which makes so many commuters’ lives a misery”.

Etkind also called for investment in longer trains and for smaller towns and villages to be better connected with public transport to ensure that rail offers a “viable and environmentally responsible alternative to car travel”.

Responding to the RDG statement, Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said, “Like most people, we will believe this when we see it. There simply aren’t the trains and staff available to make this plan happen.

“Like so much of the spin from our rip-off private train companies, these big promises are doomed to turn to dust.”

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