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East Coast Rail calls on the government to invest

Published Thursday, 19 November 2020

One third of the UK population lives within 20 minutes of an East Coast Main Line station accounting for 47% of the UK’s economic output.

Research shows that the line is vulnerable to disruption, costing the UK economy £46 million in 2018

Investment in the existing line could deliver over £11 billion of wider economic benefits

Invest East Coast Rail is calling on the UK and Scottish governments to invest in the East Coast Main Line, after research conducted on their behalf found that economies served by the line could see over £11 billion of wider economic benefits as part of a coherent package of rail schemes, including the full delivery of HS2.

Over 500 miles long the line is a key strategic rail route linking London with key cities and towns in the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East of England, and the East and North of Scotland. The line also provides important links to international gateways and ports. However, constraints on the line can lead to significant disruption and in 2018, 12 major incidents occurred costing the UK economy £46 million.

Localised and smaller incidents can also cause significant disruption across the rail network but if the number of delays on the line over 10 minutes were halved, this would deliver an additional £62.8 million per annum to the wider economy.

Investing in the line now to improve its performance will not only deliver economic benefits across the country but also ensure the line is ready for the arrival of new infrastructure projects including HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, Midlands Engine, and East West Rail.

Members of Invest East Coast Rail are calling on the government to commit to funding to future proof the East Coast Main Line and to develop a clear long-term investment plan for the line to ensure the route is ready to benefit from these future rail projects.

Cllr Keith Aspden, Chair of Invest East Coast Rail and Leader of City of York Council, said:

The East Coast Main Line is one of the UK’s strategic rail routes, but it has suffered from underinvestment and as a result is now struggling with demand.

“Without long-term funding to help tackle issues of capacity and resilience, the line will remain increasingly vulnerable to major disruptions which is why we are calling on the UK and Scottish governments to invest in the line now to ensure it is ready for new rail infrastructure projects, including HS2.

“This is all the more crucial considering the key role the line will play as an enabler to economic growth and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”