Latest Rail News

03.08.15

East West Rail to miss GRIP 3 milestones, pushed back nine months

Plans by Network Rail to ‘reprofile’ the GRIP 3 milestones for the East West Rail project from November 2015 to August 2016 have been approved by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). 

However, the regulator added that as the original date was set in 2013 the infrastructure owner “must log the status of the existing milestone as ‘missed’”. 

The original date was based on the assumption that a study completed for the East West Rail consortium in 2008-09 had effectively achieved most of the GRIP 1-3 development. 

But since taking over the work, Network Rail considers that the original study did not include development of the additional scope to meet the ‘core’ and ‘incremental’ train service specifications. 

“You also consider that the original study has several omissions, such as ground investigation and surveys, which have led to more time needed to complete GRIP 3,” said Graham Richards, deputy director, railway planning and performance at ORR, in a letter to Network Rail.   

“You have received support from operators for this change, although we note Chiltern’s concern that this delay puts additional pressure on the timescales for delivery of East West Rail Phase 2.” 

Last week, Network Rail said it had identified two potential corridors for the proposed ‘Central Section’ of the East West Rail to link Bedford and Cambridge – via Hitchin or Sandy – for further consideration. 

This follows earlier work by the East West Rail Consortium that showed that improved rail services in the Eastern region could deliver significant economic benefits, sufficient to justify further investment. 

Network Rail’s study appraised seven corridors, each offering different benefits. A preferred route will now be chosen and developed for the Central Section for consideration for inclusion in the Initial Industry Plan (due for publication in September 2016) as a choice for investment in the rail industry’s future control periods. 

Cllr Ian Bates, of Cambridgeshire County Council and chair of the East West Rail Consortium’s Central Section Board, said: “In order to secure investment for the Central Section, we need a robust business case that is aligned to local and regional growth plans as well as the strategic rail network. 

“This important work is providing valuable evidence that will support our long-held ambition to reinstate east west train services that will benefit individuals, communities and businesses all the way from East Anglia through Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and beyond.” 

However, Gavin Shuker, the MP for Luton South was quoted by the Bedfordshire on Sunday as being “disappointed” that neither of the two corridors chosen by Network Rail for further study include trains stopping at Luton. 

“The Luton – Stevenage – Hitchin to Cambridge route would join together major towns in the region and would help boost economic development,” he said. 

“I hope that the East-West consortium might reconsider its shortlist and put Luton back in the running for this important rail project.” 

However, Peter Wakefield, chairman of Railfuture East Anglia, said the group had been campaigning for East-West Rail for 25 years and was ‘very pleased’ with the latest announcement. 

Following the transport secretary’s decision to ‘pause’ the TransPennine and Midland Mainline electrification schemes, Network Rail and the local authorities within the East West Rail Consortium stated that they are continuing to work to deliver the core East West Rail (Western Section) scheme and electrification as planned. 

The upgrade of the Oxford to Bicester line, which marks the first phase of works on the western section of the East West Rail scheme, is due to be complete this autumn. 

Phase 2 of the Western Section covers the route from Bicester Town to Bedford and Milton Keynes to Aylesbury Vale and Princes Risborough. This is due for completion by March 2019.

Comments

Michael Brooks   01/09/2015 at 20:38

As can be seen from the map, a route for E-W Rail Central Section via Hitchin would add a considerable extra distance to an Oxford-Cambridge journey compared with via Sandy, although it does have the cost advantage of utilising the existing Hitchin-Cambridge line (subject to bridging the A10 at Foxton: the existing level crossing cannot cope with any greater train frequency). However, there still remains the question of whether Bedford Midland would be served (providing essential interchange with East Midlands Trains and Thameslink), given that reversal here would be necessary. Bypassing Bedford to the south would be a grave mistake.

Add your comment

 

related

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

‘Major milestone’ in Northamptonshire railway upgrade reached

21/06/2018‘Major milestone’ in Northamptonshire railway upgrade reached

Network Rail has completed 12 weeks of major improvement works in Northamptonshire. The work, which forms part of the Midland Main Line upgrade,... more >
New GTR boss named to lead company through ‘difficult times’

21/06/2018New GTR boss named to lead company through ‘difficult times’

Struggling rail firm Govia Thameslink Railway has named Patrick Verwer as its new chief executive. Following former chief executive Charles ... more >
Thousands of small-medium enterprises to benefit from rail contract changes

21/06/2018Thousands of small-medium enterprises to benefit from rail contract changes

Network Rail will be changing contract terms between subcontractors and suppliers in an effort to benefit thousands of small medium enterprises a... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Transforming travel in the north west

06/02/2018Transforming travel in the north west

RTM’s Josh Mines talks to Robin Davis, head of new trains at TransPennine Express (TPE), about the huge rolling stock change journey the co... more >
Thameslink: Nearing the end of the line

23/01/2018Thameslink: Nearing the end of the line

RTM’s Josh Mines catches up with Mark Somers, project director for Thameslink, on how the final stages of the programme are progressing and... more >
Modernising journeys in north east England

09/11/2017Modernising journeys in north east England

First Hull Trains is about to embark on the biggest fleet overhaul it has delivered since being set up in 2000. Managing director Will Dunnett te... more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. ... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

How biometrics can help improve health and safety measures on railway construction projects

20/03/2018How biometrics can help improve health and safety measures on railway construction projects

ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE Biometric identity, time and attendance specialists Donseed looks at how biometric technology is already starting to enh... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Apprenticeship levy: the latest picture

05/06/2018Apprenticeship levy: the latest picture

Mark Holmes, head of membership and development at NSAR, describes the current resources available to the rail industry to ensure companies of al... more >
Moving in the right direction

05/06/2018Moving in the right direction

Alex Cropper, head of projects group at Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), reports on the exciting progress so far in building the Trafford... more >
Overcoming leaves on the line

05/06/2018Overcoming leaves on the line

Paul Gray, professional lead of engineering R&D at the RSSB, explains how latest research proves using double variable rate sanders on trains... more >
Rail: A woman’s world

18/05/2018Rail: A woman’s world

RTM’s Sacha Rowlands reports from a panel debate where six of the industry’s leading figures convened to discuss the fundamental issu... more >