Network Rail in the UK has initiated a new study to draw up a new map for the future of rail infrastructure in London and the south-east of England.
The new London and South East market study, which is now open for consultation, has been designed to include a new style of research to help look ten to 30 years into the future, said Network Rail.
The final version of the study is intended to help understand the future of the region’s rail travel network for the 2019 – 2024 period and beyond.
Network Rail director of network strategy and planning Richard Eccles said that the study is part of the company’s new approach to planning, considering the wider role rail travel plays in Britain’s economic life.
"What we need to decide is how the network should develop to achieve economic growth, help reduce carbon emissions from transport and improve quality of life for people," Eccles said.
"This approach allows greater freedom of thought and is not constrained by current service patterns or cost and deliverability, though of course we will look at these issues in subsequent planning stages."
The study focuses on the area surrounding the UK capital, where travel is dominated by commuter services into central London.
Passenger numbers are anticipated to rise by 27% by 2031, with the biggest growth likely to be experienced on routes benefiting from capacity improvements in the next five years.
Growth of about 168% is forecasted on the Crossrail lines out of Paddington, alongside 64% growth on the Thameslink routes from London Bridge and 45% on the Thameslink routes from St Pancras.
Network Rail concludes in its study that accommodating peak demand, offering stations a minimum of three to four trains per hour, and improving journey times must be the focus of any improvements.
Travel time for regional urban services outside London and the South East should be shortened in the range of to 20-60 minutes to drive improvements in passenger commuting and increase the size of labour markets, the study noted.
Image: The study represents a new style of research designed to look 10 to 30 years into the future of UK’s rail network. Photo: courtesy of Network Rail.