OREANDA-NEWS. Investment in the rail network has generated more than GBP 1.3bn of work for businesses in London and the south-east over the last year, according to new figures released today by Network Rail.

Around a third (GBP 422m) of the money spent on building a bigger, better railway for Britain in 2012/13 went to small and medium-sized businesses based in the region, helping support economic growth and jobs across a range of industries from telecoms suppliers and glazers to solar energy engineers and security providers.

This investment has sustained over 90,000 full-time jobs nationwide in addition to the 34,000 people directly employed by Network Rail, generating significant financial returns to central government through tax revenue and savings on benefits as well as boosting local economies.

Across Britain, Network Rail’s major projects division – which is responsible for delivering enhancement schemes such as the redevelopment of King’s Cross station, Crossrail, the Thameslink Programme upgrade and platform lengthening on many of London’s busiest commuter routes – invested GBP 3.2bn in 2012/13.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said: “Investing in infrastructure has a direct effect on the economy, creating jobs, and giving Britain the infrastructure we need to build a stronger economy and fairer society.

“This report is excellent in highlighting the opportunities for small and medium sized businesses that come with infrastructure investment. That is why we have set out GBP 100bn of investment in infrastructure over the next Parliament, including supporting the largest programme of investment in rail since the Victorian era. I’m very glad to see that Network Rail are doing their bit to drive sustainable and balanced economic growth across the UK.”

Nick Elliott, regional director, Network Rail Infrastructure Projects, said: “The rail industry is increasingly recognised as a key contributor to our national, economic and social well-being. This is particularly true in London and the south east, where investment in better rail services provided a GBP 1.3bn boost to companies in the region, supporting sustainable economic growth and jobs.

“Every day, more than two million rail journeys are made to or through the capital and the railway transports millions of tonnes of goods between ports and shops. But railways don’t just move people and freight. Railways connect homes and workplaces, businesses with markets, create jobs, stimulate trade and support the growth of a balanced economy.”

The rail industry’s supply chain is both extended and varied, ranging from professional services to the construction industry. Rail investment is therefore an important driver of growth across many of the UK’s industrial sectors.

In the last four years, Network Rail has generated GBP 17.3bn of work for its supply chain, of which GBP 6.2bn has been with small and medium-sized businesses – a 22% increase on the previous four years. Planned enhancements and renewals expenditure between 2014 and 2019 is approximately GBP 25bn, with 99% of this work to be undertaken by UK-based companies.

Nick Elliott continued: “Network Rail will have a pivotal role to play in driving sustainable economic growth over the next five years as we carry out a range of projects which will increase London’s commuter rail capacity by 20%. By continuing to invest in the industry, we are also investing in the future of London, the south east of England and Britain.”