§ Angela Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans the Government have for enhancements to the railway network. 
§ Mr. Prescott
Following decades of under-investment, our 10-year plan stresses the need to enhance the rail network to accommodate passenger and freight growth with less passenger overcrowding and better punctuality and reliability.
At the same time, it is necessary to improve the day-to-day maintenance and renewal of the core network.
I have reached agreement in principle with Railtrack on the rephasing of some £1.5 billion of grants. This brings forward money already allocated under the Rail Regulator's review of access charges. In addition to delivering long-term savings to the taxpayer, this agreement provides the basis for a new relationship between the company and Government, including a commitment from Railtrack to proceed to appoint a non-executive director to its main Board with a remit to provide a powerful public and consumer voice. The agreement has been enshrined in an agreed general Statement of Principles published today, copies of which are being placed in the Library of the House.
Railtrack has agreed that the immediate financial implications of last October's tragic accident at Hatfield should fall on its shareholders. It has also agreed that one of the lessons from Hatfield is that it needs to give more attention to the management of the core rail network.
To progress the enhancements, this means bringing in third party finance and project delivery skills to supplement Railtrack, through public-private partnerships. The Strategic Rail Authority has today committed a new joint venture project finance and delivery vehicle for the East Coast Main Line upgrade, which will provide valuable new passenger and freight capacity on this key route.9W
At the same time, the Government have made available to the SRA an additional £155 million over the next two years to enable it to meet its commitments in taking forward the 10-year plan.
The SRA is continuing its programme of franchise renewal to bring benefits to passengers through more frequent services, longer trains and new rolling stock. They are today announcing progress on the East Coast Main Line, South West Trains and Chiltern franchises.
I have also reached agreement to secure the funding and construction of the second and final stage of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link from North Kent to London's St. Pancras Station. This agreement provides for Railtrack to be the operator of the whole line, but for the construction of Section 2 to be funded and overseen by London and Continental Railways, in a new risk sharing arrangement with the project management company, Bechtel.