Rail regulator’s final determination ups capital spend programme to £12.8bn

Network Rail has been granted a further £600m to spend on upgrades to the rail network over the five years from 2014 in the final determination by the rail regulator.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) today increased the amount that will be allotted to Network Rail to pay for enhancements to the network from £12.2bn, suggested in the draft determination earlier this year, to £12.8bn.

The largest part of the extra £600m - £312m – will be used to pay for depots and stabling facilities, with a further £126m of funding rolled over from the previous period in order to complete unfinished projects. In addition £32m extra will be allotted to upgrade level crossings, taking the total to £109m, to pay for the closure of 500 risky un-manned level crossings.

Having received the final determinations today, the company has until the 7th February 2014 to respond in detail and accept or reject the determination. The next five-year period will run from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2019.

Nevertheless Network Rail has been granted a further two years to work up details of its major enhancements schemes, before final costs are tied down.

David Higgins, Network Rail chief executive, said: “The next five years for the railway will prove to be a critical challenge. A challenge to continue to respond to rising passenger demand and our need to grow and expand the network while at the same time juggling the ever harder challenges of improving performance, reducing cost and delivering huge investment projects from which substantial social and economic benefits flow.

“The determination has to be right to help the company, and the railway as a whole, succeed and deliver what’s needed by passengers, freight users and the taxpayer. We must now look at the individual targets within the determination, as well as the package as a whole and welcome the opportunity provided by the ORR to use the coming months to seek clarification and work through the detail.”