Its a bit late in the day but I have been in Omagh and Alton today, and many points in between including an hour and a half waiting for a track circuit defect in the Stansted tunnel to clear – at least I had arrived at Stansted, unlike the poor unfortunates on the down trains.
Anyway, a brief comment on the announcement. The most significant aspect is that this government appears to recognise the need for rail investment. There is, therefore, a cross party agreement on support for the railways, which is something from which the industry could benefit enormously. Sure, there are lots of quibbles; it is a real shame that the full electrification plan on the Great Western is in doubt, and there is still uncertainty over the Intercity express project. And yes, there are further delays to Thameslink.
However, for rail to have come out of the Comprehensive Spending Review process with a minister who seemed intent on feathering the motorists’ nests is pretty remarkable. In effect, Hammond has by and large taken on board the Adonis plans. As I have written before, trying to unpick Network Rail’s plans could have been difficult but nevertheless a determined minister could have tried, sowing total chaos across the industry.
Therefore, we can offer at least a cheer and a half for today’s announcement, which, of course, I will analyse in more depth in a forthcoming Rail column. Unfortunately,the timing could not have been worse as the latest mag went to press the day before the announcement.