BETTER services, improved passenger information and the electrification of lines in the North East are just some of initiatives announced by rail chiefs yesterday.
Described as an initial plan, the programme covers the period 2014 to 2019 with the industry aiming to cut rail costs by £1.3bn a year by the end of the decade.
The “wish list” includes more than 700 extra services a day between cities in the North including Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool at a cost of £560m.
Assistant Area Director for Norther Rail Richard Allen was optimistic about the future. He said: “Rail services play a vital role in the economic development of the North of England. We also know that they contribute social and environmental benefits. We are committed to working with our industry partners.”
Also being considered is the electrification of hundreds of miles of track across the North Pennines to take in Newcastle, Durham, Darlington, and Middlesbrough.
This would affect routes to Tyneside and Teesside on First TransPennine Express.
Customer Services Director Edith Rodgers said: “This should mean that in future customers will benefit from improved journey times, increased capacity and better travel opportunities.”
She added: “The plans need to be studied in detail to help deliver these enhancements.”
The bill for the ambitious UK initiative could reach £10bn if given the green light. The announcement comes at a time when passenger numbers have jumped again by another 7% this year, a point taken up by Network Rail group strategy director Paul Plummer.
He said: “The railways are booming with more and more people choosing rail. Closer collaboration within the industry will deliver even more efficiencies.”