Network Rail cannot continue to rely on public funding to invest in rail improvements that drive regeneration, the organisation’s chief executive has warned.
In a speech on Tuesday night (6 September) Mark Carne called for business to play a much bigger role in helping fund rail projects and improvements. He said: ‘Railways are not just important because more and more people are choosing to use them, they are also a major driver of economic growth.
‘All over the country, we have seen the impact of rail improvements, new stations, new lines. When railways are introduced or upgraded, investment in housing inevitably follows as businesses choose to move or set up in or near those areas.
Network Rail cited the 2013 redevelopment of Epsom Station
‘We know that rail investment, such as transforming stations, can drive regeneration. But we cannot continue to rely on public funding to do so. It is clear that we need to increasingly source funding from those people, authorities and businesses that directly benefit from better railways.’
Mr Carne highlighted ‘the relative success of Britain’s railway’ but acknowledged what Network Rail needs to do to deliver a better railway, including putting the customer ‘at the heart of everything we do’ and behaving like a private sector business.
His speech followed the rail infrastructure operator’s announcement that it is finalising plans to release land for the development of around 12,000 new homes.
It said nearly 200 sites across the country have been identified as suitable for housing development. It anticipates that land for around 5,000 of these homes will be delivered in London, 3,600 in Manchester and the North, 1,700 in the Midlands and East of England, and around 1,400 homes in the South of England.
Khan signs off Riverside masterplan
Separately, London mayor Sadiq Khan has approved the masterplan for the Barking Riverside brownfield development that will include up to 10,800 new homes.
It will be served by a £263m extension to the existing Gospel Oak to Barking London Overground line, two thirds funded by the developers.
City Hall said that In line with Mr Khan’s long-term aim, a target of 50% affordable housing has been set for the development.
Under previous mayor Boris Johnson, the plans included only 28% affordable but Mr Khan has agreed a scheme that includes a minimum of 35% affordable housing from the outset, ‘with provisions to raise this to 50% over time through additional investment and viability reviews’.
Mr Khan said: ‘Barking Riverside has enormous potential to deliver thousands of the much-needed homes Londoners so urgently need.’
‘Our next task is to ensure this development includes the facilities and infrastructure which will make this a fantastic place to live and to visit, rather than simply a housing development.’