Further delays to GWML electrification as schemes deferred indefinitely

Great Western Main Line (GWML) electrification is due to be further delayed after rail minister Paul Maynard announced that four key projects are being deferred indefinitely.

Maynard told the House of Commons today that, following the Hendy Review’s criticism of the programme and revisions, he was deferring electrification of the route between Oxford and Didcot Parkway, the Bristol Parkway to Bristol Temple Meads route at Filton Bank, the Bath Spa to Bristol Temple Meads route west of Thingley Junction, and the Thames Valley Branches at Henley and Windsor.

The minister said that introducing newer trains with more capacity in these areas could be done without costly and disruptive electrification, and that the delays would generate £146m to £165m savings in CP5. No revised dates for the projects have been announced.

He added: “We remain committed to modernising the GWML and ensuring that passenger benefits are achieved.

“This decision underscores the government’s approach to wider rail investment; that passenger outcomes must be delivered in conjunction with achieving the best value from every pound spent.”

Maynard said that the DfT would continue to invest £2.8bn in the electrification programme, a cost which has swelled massively compared to original estimates.

He also noted that “real progress” has been achieved, including a six-week electrification preparation programme on the Severn Tunnel; re-signalling in Bristol, Cardiff and Cornwall; improvements at Bristol Temple Meads Station; and the introduction of the first Class 387 Electrostars on the route from Hayes & Harlington to London Paddington.

In a statement sent to RTM, Mark Langman, Network Rail’s Western route managing director, said: “The changes announced today will deliver those benefits to the greatest number of passengers in the shortest possible time.

The programme remains complex and challenging but good progress is being made.”

A spokesperson for Great Western Railway stated that customers will be disappointed at these further delays to parts of the electrification programme.

“However, we are determined our customers should not wait a day longer than absolutely necessary to see the benefits they're expecting from what will be the biggest fleet upgrade in a generation,” they added.

In a Commons debate yesterday, Maynard also refused to confirm that electrification of the Midland Main Line will be delivered for its target date of 2023.

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Bob   08/11/2016 at 16:15

well with the electrification deferred it will cause problems with cascade of dmu;s within great western I have read the 165s were going to Bristol which would leave the 150 dmu,s to replace 142 and 144.the minister Paul Maynard has made a mistake

Graham   08/11/2016 at 16:41

This is just another British botch job, we would rather waste money on foreign aid rather than a 21st century railway for the people of this country heads should roll.

James Palma.   08/11/2016 at 17:25

This is terrible news, though admittedly we are only just getting part of the story. How on earth do these things get planned that costs over run resulting in delays and cancellations?? Can anyone, perhaps the editor, give an explanation?

Tothehills   08/11/2016 at 18:14

Well bang goes the need for the 387 Electrostars; maybe Mr Maynard would like to buy them from GWR (out of his own pocket). I was quite happy when Teresa May back PM, nothing could be worse than the previous administration. Well I am proved wrong - this lot are digging themselves a hole and it looks like they want to convert it into mine.

Lutz   08/11/2016 at 18:24

Long past time to fix NR; - clearly it is not up to the big jobs. Dithering by ministers has lead to these further delays.

Jimbo   08/11/2016 at 20:20

One of the key factors in the delays to this project has been scope creep on safety standards - what had been rigorously tested in previous schemes is now no longer good enough. The "just in case" or "no matter the cost" approach to safety is killing these schemes. To give some examples, foundation piles for the catenary masts have to be twice as deep, "just in case", Bridge parapets now need to be higher than the previous standard to avoid flashover, even though the risks of flashover were scientifically tested in the past, those tests are no longer good enough, and so on. No-one is willing to say "enough" because if there is a problem in the future, they will get crucified by the press and the law. So instead, just in case, no matter how much it costs or how long it takes, is now the driving factor.

Pedr   08/11/2016 at 22:15

Does that mean there is a future for the Pacers displaced from the North-East? How many seats would that cost at a General Election?

Tothehills   09/11/2016 at 09:27

Jimbo, My sentiments entirely. My local station now sports a shiny new bridge that could take a direct hit from a Boeing 747 and still come off the better! Massively over engineered. Interesting that he choose to sneak the news out on a day when people will be distracted by news elsewhere - what a yellow Lillie coward. So we can save £146 million. Great that is piffle by comparison to what we are going to waste and loose in our impending divorce with the EU.

Sassan   09/11/2016 at 12:57

The delay to the electrification of Bristol Temple Meads to Bristol Parkway may allow the work to coincide with the planned four-tracking of this section.

Chris M   09/11/2016 at 18:44

Jimbo is quite right to highlight the ludicrous 'safety' measures imposed on upgraded railways, which are already far safer than roads. This is costing the taxpayer wasted £billions. However this is also down to Network Rail failing to plan properly and identify true costs (probably due to political pressure). Not to mention having no records of where lineside cabling was buried, or starting the project before the OHLE equipment was designed and signed off. How not to do things indeed, this debacle will impede the widescale electrification this country so desperately needs. What British Rail achieved on tiny budgets in the 1980s can now be seen as very good, shame they were prevented from carrying on.

Roger Capel, Insider   10/11/2016 at 11:20

The absolute idiocy comes right at the beginning, not with NR but with the DfT (Spellchecker doesn't suggest "Daft" for nothing!). Who in their right mind orders a fleet of rolling stock & then tries to plan a major electrification project round it months later? I'm not the only one to think that if IEP had to be kicked off by a certain date it should have been "East Coast first", allowing GWML wiring to be something like ready for it. Next time, keep the DfT out of it!

Jb   10/11/2016 at 22:51

The whole of the GWML electrification cost overruns appear to be to in large part to be due to incompetence of engineers. I was taught that a real engineer will only spend £1 to achieve what any fool can do for £10. The failure to seek blanket derogations from over-cautious and over-engineered "standards" smacks of the work being done by fools.

Anonymous Coward   18/11/2016 at 16:18

Other example of overengineering - an NR insider told me that catenary poles now have 8 bolts instead of 4. Totally unnecessary in his view. Another key reason for the cost is the bloated and ineffectual NR programme & projects management which results in a smallish proportion of the cost being spent on doing the actual work...

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