Rail investment needed to keep London number one

Network Rail today called on business leaders throughout London to support capital investment in vital transport schemes that are so important for London and for the UK economy as a whole.

Speaking at the annual London Rail conference this morning, Robbie Burns, Network Rail’s programme director for Crossrail, urged businesses to “make their voices heard” to protect London’s position as the number one city in the world.

Making the case that rail investment, including schemes like Thameslink and Crossrail, “pay for themselves time and time again”, Mr Burns said: “We need our voice and the voice of those who rely on rail to be heard by the decision makers” and “to be convincing, it is vital that rail enlists business, the wealth generators of UK plc, to speak up on behalf of rail” and he called on everyone “to inspire our businesses, our passengers, our politicians to make the case again for those rail projects that offer so much for London’s future.”

In a wide ranging speech, Mr Burns showcased the visible progress that is being seen on London’s railway at places like Blackfriars, King’s Cross and routes across the capital. “This is change on a grand scale. It is change that translates into millions of pounds every year for small, medium and large businesses in our country. It is change that must continue if London is to maintain its position as the No. 1 city in the World”.

Mr Burns welcomed positive noises about the biggest capital projects in recent weeks and the confirmation in last week’s budget that Infrastructure UK would oversee a review of costs across the construction sector. This will help Network Rail in its goal of “operating and renewing the railway with costs and practices that bear comparison with any in the world” by 2014 and in building on the company’s strong track record that has saved £6.5bn or 27% over the past five years and is targeting a further 24% of savings by 2014.