Five-year, multi-billion pound plan for ‘Backbone of Britain’ railway unveiled.(Network Rail)

Five-year, multi-billion pound plan for ‘Backbone of Britain’ railway unveiled

Overhead wires repairs in the cutting approaching Liverpool Lime Street station.(Network Rail Image)

  • Preparing for increased demand in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester
  • Over £5bn on vital operations, maintenance and asset renewal activities in five years to 2024
  • All while the new HS2 London-Birmingham railway line is constructed. m railway line is constructed.

Preparing for future increased commuter demand in and out of London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester is a key focus of Network Rail’s London North Western (LNW) route’s business plan for the five years to 2024 published today.

The publication of the Strategic Business Plan (SBP) is a major milestone in the ongoing process to determine Network Rail’s funding requirements for the five years to 2024 (Control Period 6, CP6). The plan represents Network Rail’s initial, but detailed view, following the publication of Governments (England & Wales and Scotland) high level output specifcations (HLOS) and statements of funds available (SoFA). The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) will now review the plan and make a draft determination of Network Rail’s funding needs in June, and a final determination in the autumn.

London North Western is the economic spine connecting the country’s main cities – London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, with vital links to Scotland. Today it submitted its plan for 2019 to 2024 to the industry regulator, the Office of Road and Rail (ORR).

Martin Frobisher, London North Western managing director, said:

“We connect commuters with jobs, products to market and people with loved ones. London North Western is the Backbone of Britain and includes the West Coast Main Line, Europe’s busiest railway. We are essential to Britain’s future prosperity.

“By improving performance and preparing for increased future demand for rail travel, our 2019-to-2024 plan will help facilitate further economic growth across all the regions we serve. By moving our major cities closer together, notably with HS2 and the Great North Rail Project, we will continue to create new possibilities and new opportunities for the taxpayers and customers who pay our wages.”

The plan proposes over £5bn of funding for vital operations, maintenance and asset renewal activities in five years to 2024.

Commuter demand for rail travel into Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and London is forecast to grow significantly over the next 20 to 30 years. Other projects to further enhance the railway would require additional funding and will be developed on a case-by-case basis and developed to a mature level before seeking funding.

More passengers and freight are forecast to want to use the West Coast main line – all while managing the challenges of HS2 construction. HS2 will add much-needed extra capacity. Without HS2 the West Coast will be unable to cater for forecast growth in customer demand beyond the mid-2020s.


This is Network Rail’s current plan for LNW for CP6 but it is subject to regulatory review and changes.

LNW at a glance:

  • LNW – 24% of Britain’s railway.
  • CP5 (2014 to 2019) renewals and refurbishment spend: £2.5bn
  • Train services per day: 6,009 (passenger 4,639, freight 199, London Underground 322)
  • Annual rail passenger journeys: 246.5m
  • Number of bridges: 7,100
  • Level crossings: 728
  • Signal boxes: 159
  • Stations: 571 (four of which we manage – Euston, Liverpool Lime St, Manchester Piccadilly, Birmingham New St)
  • Number of track miles: 4,500
  • Route miles: 325 from Euston to Gretna
  • Headcount: 6,853

Book now!