Optimising the railway
Rail demand has grown consistently for over twenty years and is forecast to increase by another third by 2024. Continued pressure on public finances means the industry must maximise the capacity and capability of the existing network and deliver high value where there is investment.
Rail needs to provide value for money, offering the optimal balance between customer needs and investment. This will be key to ensuring rail remains affordable to government funders and customers, while also coping with increases in demand.
We are determined to address the challenge of increasing capacity, to play as full a role as possible in reducing carbon from the transport sector and relieving congestion. This will involve more and longer services, expanding the network (including new lines), and dealing with the more complex pinch points.
Many of rail's challenges can only be addressed through the development of novel technologies, practices and processes. These solutions must both deliver what is needed today and be viable over the longer term when social, economic, and climatic conditions may be quite different.
On this last point, the need for assets to be more resilient to extreme weather has been starkly demonstrated in recent years. This is only likely to increase. Route-based resilience plans are being implemented, which is a good start. But we need to ensure the railway is building climate change adaptation into all investment decisions, asset management plans, and operational planning.