Big investment planned for Portsmouth’s railways

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AROUND £25m is set to be spent on improving the Portsmouth rail network.

Network Rail has committed to improving signalling on the Portsmouth to Waterloo line as it announced a £37.5bn plan across the country today.

As well as investing in Portsmouth, Network Rail is set to invest £30m in track improvements around Southampton.

In today’s business plan, the company said it expected to achieve a trains-on-time figure of 92.5 per cent by the end of the period 2014-2019.

A figure of 92.5 per cent punctuality was set for the period 2009-2014 – a target which Network Rail has failed to meet.

The improvements will take place over five years and are expected to see up to 20 per cent more seats on services to London.

If approved, the plan on a national level will provide 170,000 extra commuter seats at peak times by 2019 – by which time the railways could be carrying as many as 225m more passengers than at present.

But Network Rail chief executive Sir David Higgins warned that the industry, under pressure to cut costs, had entered ‘the era of trade-offs’.

He said: ‘Increasingly we have to balance the need to build more infrastructure, run trains on time and cut costs, and in many areas choices will need to be made.’

The plans come at a time of passenger anger at the above-inflation 4.2 per cent season ticket average fare rises this month.