From Phil Marsh

11% of the UK rail network to be electrified under Network Rail’s £4bn National Electrification Programme

Published: 10th March 2014

Massive rail investment means over half the UK rail network will be electrified at project completio

The massive electrification investment in Britain’s railways was highlighted at a formal signing ceremony at The Institute of Civil Engineers in London. Network Rail (NR) will deliver a £4 BILLION programme which will see two thousand miles of track put under the wires between now and 2021. This will make the rail network more efficient, cleaner and intended to offer a more reliable railway to passengers and freight users.

In the last five years only £200million was spent so the huge increase can easily be seen - which is why a new approach had to be devised.

NR has appointed four suppliers to deliver the project over the next seven years covering six regional areas. The four successful bidders are ABC Electrification, AmeyInabensa, Balfour Beatty and Carillion Powerlines who will, under NR’s instructions, plan and deliver the range of schemes across the UK. These have already been announced but the appointment of contractors is a major step forward. Each contract has an option of a three-year extension at the end of it.

Big Four Regions created

Four regional framework areas have been created. Scottish Northeast, Central, Southern and Wales and Western.

Routes to be ‘juiced’ for the first time are between Paddington, Swansea, the Cardiff Valley lines and Bristol, plus from Bedford to Sheffield, Liverpool to Manchester and Preston. In addition, what is being called the ‘electric spine’ between Southampton to Basingstoke, Oxford to Coventry plus Rugeley to Walsall is being created.

These schemes will interconnect with existing electrified routes and once the work has been done, 51% of Britain’s rail network will be electrified but 75% of all traffic will be electrically powered.

Who signed?

Simon Kirby, managing director of Network Rail’s infrastructure projects division signed on behalf of the client, NR, while the four contractors also signed the one framework agreement. He will soon be moving to the HS2 Project bringing his wealth of experience to the project.

They said:

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.

“Thanks to a firm commitment from government to invest in electrification schemes across the country, we are transforming the railway and providing Britain with a sustainable, world-class transport system that is fit for the future. To deliver this work in the safest and most efficient way possible, we need to make the most of the huge potential within our supply chain.”

Jeremy Candfield, director general of the Railway Industry Association, commented: “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.”

Rail Electrification Development Programme and Supply chain co-operation

The scale of the work means that everyone will need to work together to ensure that the supply chain is not overwhelmed. Many engineers will be required and NR is undertaking a conversion project where existing engineers can be retrained into the required disciplines.

Each supplier will have a specific set of contracts in place detailing schemes to be delivered and this approach has been welcomed by the supply chain and the RIA. It also means that each supplier will be able to invest in training and development. The Rail Industry Association (RIA) will be working with NR which will set up a Network Rail Electrification Training Academy, and will fund the associated investment required.

The Rail Electrification Development Programme has been introduced as has a Rail Electrification Delivery Group to oversee the training and development part of the project is delivered. Training facilities at York and Paddock Wood will be developed and well used!

The project costs it was announced, will be kept down by sharing knowledge and innovation between the four contractors and NR. This will also bring improvements in the reliability of electrification technology – something which has let passengers down on the East Coast Man Line which when electrified, was done as cheaply as possible under Government instructions and is not a reflection on those involved.

They said:

Simon Kirby said that With billions of pounds set to be invested in electrification schemes over the next decade, and with many projects at different stages of development, it is absolutely vital that the supply market gets a clear, consistent message from Network Rail about what the company needs from its supply partners, where and when.

“The framework approach chosen by Network Rail gives suppliers a greater degree of certainty about the company’s pipeline of work and means suppliers can target investment so they have the right people with the right skills in the right parts of the country to deliver schemes which will improve our railway and boost economic growth.”

Who is doing what?

The Regional frameworks are as follows;

Southern region: AmeyInabensa

Central (London North Western, South) region: ABC

Central (East Midlands) region: CarillionPowerlines

Central (London North Western, North) region: Balfour Beatty

Scotland & North East region: CarillionPowerlines

Western & Wales region: ABC

As an example of one joint venture, Alstom is part of the ABC consortium which will do work valued at around £900 million. ABC is an incorporated, equal share joint venture comprising Alstom, Babcock and Costain and has been awarded London North Western, South region and the Wales and West region, Valley Lines.

Network Rail – a current carrier and looking for engineers!

Network Rail is one of the largest energy distributors in Britain with the rail network literally alive with electricity. They use over 3 TWh annually costing over £250 million and they are looking for electrical engineers.

External Links

Liverpool street station in the UK at rush hour

Help and advice with train travel in the UK

Train travel in the UK should be a pleasure, not a headache. So if you’re taking a train on the UK railway, start your journey here. We’ve lots of hints, tips and advice to help you find your way around, travel smoothly and arrive in style by train.

Read more

eurostars passing at 375mph from the drivers seat in france


Welcome to our #railchat page. Our #railchat discussions take place over on Twitter, with our resident expert Phil Marsh. If you would like to get involved, please do join us, and use the dedicated hashtag #railchat. See our previous discussions below:

Read more

Old steam train in Shanty Town Museum

Locomotives & Engines

Our rail network would be nothing without them. From Stephenson's Rocket to British Rail Class 92 and beyond, explore the facts, information and anecdotes behind the steam, diesel and electric locomotives that built the age of the train.

Read more


Latest Tweets


Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh to London Kings Cross by Train

Book in advance with and save 85% advanced bookings.

From £21.00

Buy now

Millenium Dome, London

Birmingham New Street to London Euston by Train

Book in advance with and save 92% on advance bookings.

From £6

Buy now

You may also like...



Follow us on Twitter and become part of our rail community! is the easy way to buy cheap train tickets online.



Control your business fuel costs with a supermarket fuel card – free to apply, no ongoing account charges and no monthly minimum spend.