MPs to scrutinise level of rail infrastructure funding in attempt to "address failures"

The transport select committee has launched an enquiry into whether the current system of planning and delivering investment in rail infrastructure is adequate enough.

MPs on the committee are carrying out a review as the government enters the final 18 months of funding Network Rail in the current control period. Most rail infrastructure funding in Britain is channelled through Network Rail in five-year cycles with the next period (CP6) set to start in April 2019. The system is said to be designed to enable the government to set strategic objectives for the railways, providing direction in terms of what work is expected and how much money is available.  

In October, the government announced that £47.9bn had been set aside for CP6. £34.7bn will come from a government grant, supplemented by track access charges and commercial income. But in the wake of plans like the electrification schemes being scaled back, MPs want to analyse what impacts postponed renewals might have on CP6.

The enquiry has been launched with a particular interest in addressing the following:

  • The apparent regional disparity in rail infrastructure funding
  • Whether steps taken by the Government and Network Rail to increase private sector investment for rail infrastructure are adequate
  • Whether Network Rail’s long term planning process is effective in providing the industry with strategic direction beyond the five year control period

Commenting on the enquiry, chair of the transport select committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, said: "Government has started work on funding and spending plans for Network Rail in Control Period 6. This should address the failures of the current control period: scrapped electrification and enhancement projects; uncompleted work tipping from the current control period to the next; and deep disquiet about differences in regional funding. We will consider whether the mechanism of control periods is the best way to manage investment in rail infrastructure. At a time when UK passengers have seen ticket prices rising far faster than their wages, the committee will examine whether the current system of planning and delivering investment is giving us the infrastructure we need if we are to have a modern 21st century railway."

The deadline for written submissions is Monday 18 December and views can be submitted here.

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