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Network Rail chief exec on how business can help fund rail improvements

Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, spoke to London First members, setting out how the railways can help unlock housing supply.

Speaking to members, Mr Carne said “Railways are not just important because more and more people are choosing to use them, they are also a major driver of economic growth.”

Network Rail has identified almost 200 sites across the country which will deliver almost 12,000 new homes, and are continuing to review their land assets.

Mr Carne pointed out that “all over the country, we have seen the impact of rail improvements, new stations, and new lines. When railways are introduced or upgraded, investment in housing inevitably follows as businesses choose to move or set up in or near those areas.

“We know that rail investment, such as transforming stations, can drive regeneration. But we cannot continue to rely on public funding to do so. It is clear that we need to increasingly source funding from those people, authorities and businesses that directly benefit from better railways.”

The Times covered the speech and you can read Network Rail’s press release of the event here.

Digital Railways

With passenger numbers predicted to double again within 25 years, Mr Carne has plans to be able to run many more trains on the current infrastructure without the need to build new infrastructure that would cause huge disruption to passengers and local communities and businesses.

Instead he outlined how using tube-like digital signalling technology (similar to that which has revolutionised the Victoria and Jubilee lines in London) many more trains could be run on existing tracks.

Mr Carne said: “We need to accelerate the transition to digitally run railways so we can unlock the benefits before the network is gridlocked.”

London First will be following up with Network Rail to get more detail on these issues.

Contact: David Leam, dleam@londonfirst.co.uk

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