Network Rail has selected four suppliers to electrify over 2,000 miles of Britain’s rail network for a period of seven years, in a bid to deliver environment friendly and safe journeys for passengers and freight users.

The bidders include Balfour Beatty, Amey Inabensa, Carillion Powerlines and ABC Electrification. Selection is part of a £2bn programme to lower the cost of railway.

Network Rail infrastructure projects division managing director Simon Kirby said: "Our work to electrify two thousand track miles represents the biggest programme of rail electrification in a generation and will provide faster, quieter and more reliable journeys for millions of passengers every week while cutting the cost of the railway."

Around six regional framework contracts have been awarded, with support from the supply chain and industry groups like the Railway Industry Association. Each framework includes a defined range of schemes.

"This is a major and very welcome step in the transformation of the railway."

The four suppliers will work alongside Network Rail to plan and deliver the schemes to electrify key routes in England, Wales and Scotland, UK. The seven-year agreement comes with three one-year extensions.

The routes include the Great Western and Midland main lines, Liverpool to Manchester and Preston, the Valley lines in south Wales and the ‘electric spine’ from Southampton docks to the West Midlands and Yorkshire.

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Railway Industry Association director general Jeremy Candfield said: "This is a major and very welcome step in the transformation of the railway. It will encourage suppliers to invest in the training and equipment needed for the growing national electrification programme and pave the way for suppliers’ greater involvement to maximise the efficient delivery of the projects."

An electrified railway is expected to deliver benefits such as lower rolling stock operating and leasing costs, higher levels of train reliability and availability, while help reduce journey times. Electric trains also reduce carbon emissions, noise and improve air quality.

Image: Engineers work to renew overhead lines at Rugby. Photo: courtesy of Network Rail.