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Railway Infrastructure: England and Wales.

Volume 723: debated on Thursday 1 December 2022

I should like to make a statement on the settlement for the next five-year funding period for railway infrastructure in England and Wales.

Maintaining and renewing our country’s rail infrastructure is critical to delivering the railway that passengers and freight companies expect, and for supporting economic growth. Every five years the Government are required to set out what we wish to achieve from the operations, maintenance and renewal of the railway. This is done through a document known as a high-level output specification, and the funding available is set out through a statement of funds available.

I am today, 1 December, publishing the objectives and funds available for operational railway infrastructure in England and Wales for the next control period, control period 7. This covers the period April 2024 to March 2029.

The Government fully recognise the critical role that rail services played for business, key workers and our society during the covid-19 pandemic, and the vital role that they play in connecting communities and supporting economic growth.

The high-level output specification makes it clear that the Government will press ahead with rail reform, addressing the challenges facing the sector, such as fragmentation and outdated working practices, with a strong continued focus on operations, maintenance and renewal. This strong continued focus is important in supporting a safe, efficient and reliable railway for passengers and freight customers.

Achieving these objectives will be facilitated by significant Government investment as set out in the statement of funds available, with Network Rail spending around £44 billion over the period April 2024 to March 2029. The Government now expect Network Rail to develop detailed plans to deliver on these objectives, working closely with its customers. These will then be subject to strong and effective scrutiny by the Office of Rail and Road, as independent regulator, to develop robust, credible, value-for-money plans for the next control period.