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Southeastern and Southern boss join rail operators in South East backing calls for investment which can add £85 billion to British economy

By Chris Price

Rail operators in Kent have joined forces with other train companies in the South East to sign a letter backing a plan for Britain’s railways which it says can add £85 billion to the British economy.

The open letter calls for a £50 billion investment in the region’s railways, which will help to deliver 5,700 new carriages by 2021 and 6,400 additional services per week.

It comes as a poll of business leaders across the region shows 57% think rail will be key to attracting inward investment after the UK leaves the EU.

Southeastern runs services across Kent
Southeastern runs services across Kent

Bosses of Southeastern, South Western Railway, Govia ThameslinkRailway – which owns Southern – and Network Rail supported four commitments to improve rail travel.

The proposals, outlined in the In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity plan, include commitments to:

  • Strengthen the railway’s contribution to the economy, keeping running costs in the black, freeing up taxpayers’ money
  • Increase customer satisfaction by improving the railway to remain the top-rated major railway in Europe
  • Boost local communities through localised decision making and investment
  • Create more jobs, increase diversity and provide our employees with rewarding careers.

The companies claim in the next 18 months alone, customers and communities across the country will see a transformation in their railway with more trains, better services and improved stations.

The plan claims staff in the railway will benefit with 100,000 job opportunities, a £1 billion investment in the rail teams and the creation of 20,000 new apprenticeships in rail and its supply chain by 2020.

Rail companies will also double the number of higher level apprenticeships every five years.

Meanwhile customer journeys will be improved using technology to increase capacity by running trains closer together.

Southeastern managing director David Statham
Southeastern managing director David Statham

The companies committed to improve information to help passengers during disruption and to make buying and using tickets quicker and easier.

David Statham, managing director of Southeastern, said: “We welcome the launch of this initiative which will help us to deliver for passengers, strengthen the economy and build on the progress we’ve made this year.

“The latest national survey indicated that 8 out 10 passengers said that they were satisfied with our services.

“We have already invested £78 million to transform our services so that our passengers get the best possible value for their money.

“Next year will see new routes, more technological innovation, improved journey times, and the completion of the Thameslink programme to transform the network around London Bridge.

“Working with industry partners, Southeastern will remain at the cutting edge of economic and community development in the South East of England.”

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