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New trains and more services next year, say TOCs

TRAIN operators have published an updated investment report for next year, which predicts more than 1,000 additional services will be running each week and that 1,000 new vehicles will be added to the rolling stock fleet, although this will be offset in part by the withdrawal of Pacers, which should be completed by May.

An estimated total of £20 billion will be invested in running and upgrading the railway, said the Rail Delivery Group.

Among the major improvements highighted in the report are more new and refurbished trains in the north of England, the completion of the project to modernise and enlarge Glasgow Queen Street station, a train refurbishment programme worth £40 million in Wales, new half hourly services between London and Corby, more new trains arriving at Greater Anglia, as the programme to completely replace the fleet continues, more frequent and faster services between London and the south west, aided by the £80 million upgrade of the sea wall at Dawlish.

Ninety new trains are set to come into service on South Western Railway and construction will start on the £150 million rebuilding of Gatwick Airport station.

Rail Delivery Group chief executive Paul Plummer said: ‘People want a better railway and we are investing in a long-term plan to make that happen. Next year, our passengers and the communities that rely on rail can expect more trains to more places and new carriages with more seats and better wifi. Those improvements will drive economic growth increase productivity and help set Britain up for success in the long term.’

The report has been published ahead of the Williams Review, which is widely expected to propose major changes to the franchising system, with revenue risk moving from operators to a new central authority.

Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: ‘For passengers who have put up with much inconvenience in the expectation of a better, more reliable rail service, the prospect of more seats and new trains will clearly be welcome.

‘Passengers understand that change can take time and mean some disruption and they will need to be kept well informed and given clear timescales for improvements. Their top priorities for improvement are more trains arriving on time, more chance of getting a seat or standing in comfort and better value for money.’

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