Union welcome for line electrification

23 July 2009

Keith Norman hailed today’s announcement of government intentions to electrify more of the UK rail network as a ‘major step forward for both passengers and staff’.


‘Electrification helps us meet environmental targets, it’s going to make a profit in the future, it will be provide quicker journeys, it provides improved working conditions for drivers and it stops us being the poor boys of Europe. Currently Macedonia has a higher percentage of its track electrified than the UK,’ he said. ‘We have 32.9%.’


The Prime Minister this morning announced a £1.1 billion rail electrification programme before travelling to a Cabinet meeting on one of the lines earmarked for electrification - the Great Western line from London to Swansea. Also included in the plan is the electrification of Liverpool to Manchester. No decision has been made on the Midland Main Line, which is ‘under consideration’.


One other useful assurance from Gordon Brown was that, because the investment will pay for itself over the coming 40 years, with significant cuts in fuel, operating and maintenance costs for example, ‘there will be no impact on fares’. He said, ‘We have set aside money for this. It's an important priority for us.’


Work on London-Swansea will take eight years, which Keith says ‘demonstrates the need for long-term planning for rail’ even as it ‘shows the shortcomings of the short-term franchise system’.


The initiative should also be of assistance to the UK’s recession-hit economy and could have other benefits as rolling stock will also need to be updated.

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