Local authorities and train operators have been invited to bid for a £60m government fund that could see them retain revenues from projects that boost the commercial potential of stations.
The Station commercial project facility fund is designed to enable capital expenditure projects that will generate an increased financial benefit to the Department for Transport (DfT) while improving station environments.
However companies and local authorities can retain project revenues and/or savings earned directly from the projects ‘where the financial return exceeds the operations and maintenance costs and any DfT return requirements’.
Projects must have a DfT revenue stream with a total project cost ratio of 2:1, over the first 10 years of full operation of the enhancement. This is discounted at a rate of 3.5% per annum and expressed in 2015 prices in accordance with the Autumn 2014 WebTAG guidance.
Chancellor, George Osborne, said: ‘I am keen to see what new ideas train operators and local authorities will now come up with to improve station facilities and provide good value for money for the taxpayer.’
Project bids from train companies will not be accepted where the completion date - described as end of GRIP Stage 7 - is less than 18 months before the expiry of the company’s franchise or direct award.
Likewise local authority bids where the completion date of the project is less than 18 months before the expiry of any partnering train operating company’s franchise or direct award will not be accepted.
Promoting or partnering companies for bids must be DfT franchised and proposals must be completed by 31 March.
The news comes as the Government announced plans to upgrade train services into the capital from Kent with a £12m investment programme.
Around 10 minutes could be slashed off train times as a result of planned infrastructure enhancements to the track, bridges and level crossings to allow the maximum speed on the Kent to London line to increase from 70mph to 80mph.
Target journey times include a 63-minute run from London St Pancras to Ramsgate.
Money for the scheme has come from Network Rail and Kent CC’s Regional Growth Fund provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
Transport secretary Patrick McLouglin said the improvements were part of a long-term plan and tied in with wider government investment on the railways.
Local MP Laura Sandys said the news constituted ‘a huge win for Thanet and a real game-changer’.