Rail plan unites the sector with pledge of 'partnership for prosperity'

Plagued by years of bad publicity, the industry on Monday said passengers will see a "transformation in their railway" over the next 18 months.

The £50bn of investment includes £11.6bn on 5,700 new carriages by 2021, £7.7bn of spending on HS2 between 2015-2019 and £6bn of investment in London's Crossrail.

The collaboration will see train companies, Network Rail and suppliers launch a long-term plan for changing an improving the railway together.

"That's why today, we are making four commitments for change to safeguard our economic contribution whilst delivering the best deal for taxpayers, to improve services for customers, better connect local communities and secure more jobs in rail".

"Operating as a partnership railway, with income from both public and private sectors, we are bringing vital investment that will improve services for business, communities and passengers, which is critical to powering economic growth".

Nearly £85bn of additional economic benefits are hoped to be secured by a landmark collaboration between unions, TOCs and freight operators, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has today stated.

Network Rail's chief executive, Mark Carne, explained: "Over the next 18 months passengers and communities across the country will see a transformation in the services that they receive".

Meanwhile, Mike Cherry, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Well-maintained and integrated infrastructure is crucial for small businesses and the economy as a whole. Businesses absolutely agree that the public and private sectors need to be working together to deliver better, more reliable rail services now and into the future".

The commitments were welcomed by a broad range of other groups, including independent passenger watchdog Transport Focus, the CBI, and the British Chambers of Commerce.

However, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: "This is just the same old fantasy railway plans and promises of jam tomorrow that the public are sick and exhausted of".

He called for Britain's rail services to be taken back into public ownership.

There will be a £1bn investment into rail teams, creating 20,000 new apprenticeships in the industry by 2020, and doubling the volume of higher level apprenticeships every five years. It will spend £250m per year training workers and create 10,000 apprenticeships for new industry recruits from diverse backgrounds.

Nick Crossfield, managing director of trainmaker Alstom UK, said: "This important new plan from RDG sets out the industry's commitment to delivering a better railway".

"Today is a landmark coming together", said RDG chief executive Paul Plummer.

"The rail industry plan seeks to secure nearly £85bn of economic benefits, boosting both the United Kingdom economy and its connectivity", said RIA chief executive Darren Caplan.

The plan outlines four commitments from rail firms, including getting a greater grip on costs.

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