On Monday, 3 July 2006, Network Rail issued its Initial Strategic Business Plan for Control Period 4 - 2009/10 to 2013/14.
This sets out Network Rail's emerging plans for the rail network as a first step in the process of establishing the Secretary of State for Transport’s and Scottish Ministers’ High Level Output Specification and Statement of Funding Available, to be published in Summer 2007. The Secretary of State for Transport’s documents will cover England and Wales and Scottish Ministers’ will cover Scotland. The Assembly Government will be consulted on the England and Wales documents. The funding of Network Rail in England and Wales is the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Transport.
Network Rail’s Plan is based around two strategies
- The Baseline, covering the estimated minimum cost of maintaining a non-degrading network, including enhancement projects that are already committed. Estimated expenditure for the Period is £21,957million, covering Operations, Maintenance, Renewals and Enhancements.
- The Basecase - which includes enhancement projects to help provide capacity, needed to meet reasonable growth in passenger and freight traffic. Estimated expenditure for the Period for this strategy is £29,285million.
The plan is not a final blueprint from Network Rail, but a contribution to the process of looking at and debating options for the railway. It will lead up to the High Level Output Statements and Statements of Funds Available next summer, and the Office of Rail Regulation’s next Periodic Review.
In Wales, the Assembly Government’s forthcoming Transport Strategy, Wales Rail Planning Assessment, covering the long-term, and the Wales Route Utilisation Strategy, covering the medium term, are being produced. They will set out the strategic planning visions for the future of the railway in Wales. They will all be completed in time to inform the High Level Output Statement and Statement of Funds Available (for England and Wales) next summer.
On other issues, I work closely and productively with Network Rail on my ongoing programme of investments for rail improvements and meet with the Route Director Robbie Burns each quarter.
I am setting up a Joint Industry Railway Board for Wales, which will include Network Rail and other major stakeholders. The purpose of the board is to improve delivery of services and customer care to the rail passenger and for freight.
Network Rail is currently funding the Port Talbot, Cardiff and Newport resignalling schemes at a cost of £400 million.
The Assembly Government has commissioned Network Rail to deliver a large programme of infrastructure enhancements in Wales, which includes: -
¨ Merthyr Frequency Enhancements
¨ Platform Lengthening on Valley Lines network to enable the operation of longer trains to meet unprecedented demand.
¨ Regeneration of Newport Station
¨ Llanharan Station