Four suppliers have been appointed by Network Rail to deliver a £2bn programme to electrify more than two thousand miles of Britain’s railway over the next seven years, providing faster, quieter, greener and more reliable journeys for passengers and freight users and cutting the cost of the railway.

The successful bidders – Balfour Beatty, AmeyInabensa, CarillionPowerlines and ABC Electrification – will work with Network Rail to plan and deliver a range of schemes which will see key routes in England, Wales and Scotland electrified for the first time.

Once electrification schemes including 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 are complete, more than half Britain’s rail network will be electrified with electric trains accounting for three-quarters of all traffic.

Simon Kirby, managing director of Network Rail’s infrastructure projects division, 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.”

Six geographic framework contracts have been awarded, with each having a defined workbank of schemes to be delivered. This approach has been endorsed by the supply chain and industry groups such as the Railway Industry Association.

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.”

The inclusion of a significant number of committed projects within each framework will support investment in the training and development of the resource pool, including supporting the proposed development of a Network Rail Electrification Training Academy, as well as providing the investment needed to develop innovation and improvements in the reliability of electrification technology.

Simon Kirby continued: “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.”