Increased capacity for Welsh rail passengers as part of strategy for rail growth

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has announced extra capacity for Welsh rail passengers, including more than 20% extra capacity into Cardiff at the busiest peak times by 2014.

Cardiff and Swansea will also benefit from improved reliability and capacity on services to London, thanks to a £425m project at Reading to tackle one of the biggest bottlenecks on Britain's rail network.

These schemes are part of today's rail White Paper, Delivering a Sustainable Railway, which will allow the railway to accommodate at least 180 million more passengers a year nationally.

The Transport Secretary announced that capacity will increase to cope with growth of more than 20 per cent in the next seven years, on a network which will be even safer and more reliable.

The strategy also allows for a potential doubling in capacity over 30 years through continual and rational growth of a rail network which is flexible enough to respond to changing passenger demand.

It must also be a railway which sharpens its environmental performance and thrives on new technology, the strategy makes clear.

Ms Kelly said:

"Our railway is flourishing and in this White Paper we show how we will grow and develop the network for decades to come.

"This strategy is aimed at delivering what passengers want - and so not only will there be more capacity and reliability on their trains but also more modern stations, simple and efficient ticketing, quality of service and value for money.

"Steady investment has given us a rail network which is in good shape for the first time in a generation and this means we can be ambitious for its future. It should be a railway which helps power economic growth and enhances the quality of our lives. We can't know precisely what our railway will look like in 30 years time but now we can be confident of making it bigger, stronger and more flexible."

Ms Kelly also announced that the Department for Transport will continue to limit fare increases under its control (including standard season tickets and savers) to no more than one per cent above inflation. A new simplified fares structure will introduce just four basic ticket types across the country, ticket retailing will be streamlined to reduce ticket office queues, station access and passenger information improved.

More than 150 stations will be refurbished and upgraded at a cost of £150 million, and the list is likely to include Swansea station.

The Government formally submitted its spending plans (including the High Level Output Specification) today for approval by the Office of Rail Regulation.