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Ambiguous Hendy Review puts rolling stock and local plans at risk

A lack of transparency in Sir Peter Hendy’s revised enhancement delivery plan (EDP) has made it harder to plan for the future and could impact the introduction or cascade of rolling stock across the network, it has been claimed.

In a paper presented to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), it was stated that “one of the major shortcomings of the report was the lack of transparency with regards to the underpinning methodology behind the revised dates across the entire rescheduled programme”.

The report authors, Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council and GMCA’s rail lead, and Jon Lamonte, CEO of TfGM, added that only having indicative dates, or none at all, make it very challenging for the purposes of planning.

The report authors also criticised Sir Peter’s report for its “ambiguous language” and “non-specific target dates”. RTM recently reported that the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said that changes to Network Rail’s regulated outputs in its revised England and Wales EDP could have “been clearer”, but were approved to get the industry “back to business as usual”.

Firm dates

Sir Richard and Lamonte added that “firm dates” are essential for the purposes of planning integrated infrastructure schemes, procurement of rolling stock and cascades, and planned access to the railway and other infrastructure for construction.

But they said: “Some EDPs have dates removed from obligations with no indication of timescales to commit development or delivery dates; this raises serious concerns for us and our stakeholders, puts local investment plans at risk and does not promote confidence in the delivery plan.”

The authors welcomed the decision to ‘un-pause’ the TransPennine Upgrade programme, and the fact that no schemes were cancelled altogether. However, they were concerned about some of the delays within the TransPennine programme.

The report states it is understood schemes can slip due to unforeseen events. For instance, the Ordsall Chord project has been subject to a legal challenge. But it adds: “It must be better to give target dates and then identify a clear list of potential project risks that could cause delay, than just simply leave dates out altogether, even if those dates have to have a degree of contingency in them.”

GMCA members were told that the lack of visibility of risks identified and mitigation taken gives “little confidence” that additional delays, or those previous issues, will not be repeated later in the programme.

It was noted that more clarity on the reasons behind the delays and what steps have been taken to address these issues on an individual project basis would greatly assist in understanding the necessity behind delays on some of the critical infrastructure projects in the north west region.

Great Western delays and rolling stock

Concerns were also raised about the continued delay of the Great Western electrification project, which is expected to deliver a major cascade of diesel trains to both Northern and ScotRail to meet planned service and capacity improvements in the future.

Back in January, Sir Peter revealed the revised completion dates of each element of the delayed Great Western Main Line electrification programme, which has seen its costs swell massively.

The GMCA report adds that the introduction of new rolling stock and the cascade of vehicles to other areas of the network are potentially threatened by the widespread slippages in the Hendy Review.

“Extra capacity and faster journey times are desperately needed in the northwest after years of underinvestment, and our passengers have a right to expect all of what they were promised, not projects that have now been revised downwards and delivered late,” said the report authors, adding: “It is particularly unpalatable that the Enhancement Delivery Plan was released on the same day that Arriva Rail North publically agreed firm orders for new electric and diesel units which were predicated upon assumed electrification schemes and rolling stock cascades as specified by DfT in the franchise ITT, which may now no longer be fulfilled as originally planned in the light of Sir Peter’s rephrasing.”

Sir Richard and Lamonte added that it is not clear how the impacts of the Hendy Review were considered in relation to the national franchising programme.

Prior to the publication of  the Hendy Review, the heads of two of Network Rail’s most important suppliers said the “uncertainty” thrown up by the reviews into the company’s capabilities and future must end.

With regards to revised programmes in the north, such as TransPennine electrification, TfGM, as a member of Rail North, said it would very much like to see a full breakdown of the programme with the causation of the delays that have led to the redefined completion dates clearly outlined.

“With a better understanding of how the slippage has happened, we will be better placed to assist in optimising the phasing of the revised programme and managing stakeholder and customer expectations throughout the delivery,” said Lamonte. “We would request much more transparency from Network Rail in this matter.”

It was also suggested that a supplementary annex be appended to the current Hendy Review or the public be sighted on it if such a report already exists within Network Rail.  

The report authors concluded that while it is “undoubtedly positive” that Sir Peter has undertaken his review, the report “does raise concern about the overall ability of the national railway network to fulfil obligations and meet the expectations of our passengers”.

(Image: c. Stefan Rousseau PA)


Henry Law   29/04/2016 at 21:41

With locomotives and unpowered vehicles in push-pull mode, with backwards compatibility, flexibiliity is maintained.

David   30/04/2016 at 11:25

Multiple Units are far superior and more versatile. Bearing in mind the wasted space and poorer acceleration characteristics of a locomotive.

Chris M   01/05/2016 at 02:31

David, your statement is rather simplistic, It depends on the technical capability of the particular designs and the route characteristics - the class 68 hauled trains run by Chiltern for example leave their 100mph diesel multiple units standing. And the space taken up by a loco doesn't matter unless the terminus tracks are very restricted in length.

Lutz   01/05/2016 at 15:50

The cracks in the plan start to come to light; it has been clear for sometime that the Hendy report was not the end of the story, and that the problems within the NR delivery units are so bad that further revisions will be required until the teams concerned have been made fit to do the job.

Andrew Gwilt   03/05/2016 at 00:29

I think this is about North of England (Northern Powerhouse). Unless its about the whole part of England and also Wales and Scotland.

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