Latest Rail News

05.07.16

GWML electrification ‘still at risk’ in new enhancement delivery plan

Network Rail has improved its performance on meeting its goals but will still face challenges, particularly in delivering the Great Western Main Line (GWML) electrification programme, the ORR has said in its annual assessment of the infrastructure owner.

Network Rail was found to be in breach of its licence last year after it struggled to deliver its enhancement projects, as exclusively reported in RTM. Sir Peter Hendy then conducted a review of Network Rail, which led to it publishing a revised Enhancements Delivery Plan (EDP) that includes deferring some projects from CP5 to CP6.

The ORR assessment says: “The delivery of Network Rail’s obligations set out in the new EDP is not without risk: there are still challenges both in terms of demanding timescales to develop route upgrades such as the TransPennine upgrade programme (to be ready for CP6 delivery) and the completion of projects that are already in detailed design or construction. It will also take time for the improvements Network Rail is putting in place to its planning and delivery of projects to take full effect.

“Nevertheless, the revised project dates are more achievable and provide a better baseline going forward, firstly as a public commitment from Network Rail to its customers and funders, and secondly as a point of reference against which to measure how effectively the company delivers projects for the benefit of fare-paying passengers, other rail users and the wider industry.

“Network Rail needs to focus on cost efficiency and effectiveness to address the challenges set out in the regulatory settlement. It needs to do this while delivering record levels of enhancement activity, high levels of renewals activity to improve long term asset sustainability and, ultimately, performance of the network. But the cost effectiveness of renewals activity is proving particularly challenging.”

It says Network Rail has made good progress in implementing the EDP, including jointly establishing a memorandum of understanding with the Department for Transport on accountability for rail investment, establishing a process to peer-review projects at set points in their lifecycle, and improving consistency and capability in its cost planning improvement plan.

GWML electrification

However, it says the electrification of the Great Western Main Line remains “at risk”. The regulator says the key measure will be whether Network Rail is able to test and commission the ‘Series 1’ overhead line system between Tilehurst and Didcot by 20 September. This will provide evidence as to whether Network Rail will be able to successfully complete electrification to Wootton Bassett by December 2017.

The ORR is not currently implementing an incentive mechanism for efficient project delivery, because the cost of the Great Western electrification programme is already substantially greater than the baseline set. But the regulator is in the process of developing a new mechanism fir for purpose.

Network Rail overspend

The assessment also said that Network Rail’s financial problems are largely due to higher than expected costs of enhancements.

It overspent its £4.9bn budget by £718m in the past year, partly due to enhancements costing £67m more than expected and an overspend of £95m on Crossrail because of delays, extra station works and more signalling contractor works.

However, the ORR warned that Network Rail’s spending on implementing more reliable infrastructure such as new tracks, signals and overhead lines has not yet led to improved performance with the UK rail industry experiencing its worst performance and punctuality measures in a decade.

Network Rail revealed it has failed to meet key targets in its annual report, published yesterday.

The ORR has asked Network Rail to set out more precisely how it will assure itself that its enhancements will deliver real improvements across the country, and how it will be able to demonstrate that the intended benefits have been realised.

Joanna Whittington, chief executive of the ORR, said: “Britain's railways have seen sustained investment in recent years, supporting a further rise in passenger numbers.

“Network Rail is making good progress on health and safety and its programme to improve asset reliability. However, while its track and signals are now more resilient, this cost more than expected and network performance has not improved. 

“Over the course of the next year, we need to see evidence that Network Rail’s initiatives are delivering financial efficiencies and noticeable performance improvements for passengers while achieving gains in health and safety.”

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here.

 

Comments

Hugh Terry   06/07/2016 at 15:14

Why is electrification on this line taking so long? I guess this is the 64-million dollar question (or however much it costs). Suffice to say, in my view it's about 50 years overdue.

N King   06/07/2016 at 22:46

Behind-scenes it's well known the UK electricity supply system is really not ready for the massive loads consumed by extra transport. When the wind is blowing, a useful 8GW can be fed to the Grid, but in calm weather, this drops to almost nothing. Coal-fired power stations have been shut, and nuclears are approaching end-of-life. Realistically we need more power stations first, especially before anything like HS2.

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

‘Time is running out’: MSP and union leaders call for government intervention into Springburn depot

19/02/2019‘Time is running out’: MSP and union leaders call for government intervention into Springburn depot

Scottish Labour and union leaders have called on the government to take the Springburn depot under public control as ministers debate the depot&r... more >
South Western Railway strikes suspended after ‘significant breakthrough’ in guard dispute

19/02/2019South Western Railway strikes suspended after ‘significant breakthrough’ in guard dispute

Strike action by workers on the South Western Railway (SWR) have been suspended after a “significant breakthrough” was made in the lo... more >
MPs make joint-pledge to back rail investment in Liverpool Manchester corridor in Parliament

19/02/2019MPs make joint-pledge to back rail investment in Liverpool Manchester corridor in Parliament

More than 20 MPs from Liverpool and Manchester have signed a commitment to support rail investment in the north west. The pledge, which was ... 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

TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

22/01/2019TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

Peter Molyneux, Transport for the North’s (TfN’s) strategic roads director, has been leading on the development of the seven economic... more >
Exclusive: Midlands Connect and WMRE talk collaboration and investment in the Midlands' railway

22/01/2019Exclusive: Midlands Connect and WMRE talk collaboration and investment in the Midlands' railway

In the jigsaw puzzle of regional transport decision-making, there must be collaboration and compromise. Midlands Connect media lead James Bovill ... more >
Rail Ombudsman interview: RTM sits down with CEO Kevin Grix

20/12/2018Rail Ombudsman interview: RTM sits down with CEO Kevin Grix

In November, the first ever Rail Ombudsman was established in a bid to give passengers a free independent service to allow passengers to claim co... 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

Williams Rail Review: The end of saying sorry?

05/02/2019Williams Rail Review: The end of saying sorry?

Keith Williams’ ongoing Rail Review presents a golden opportunity to rebuild the industry’s weakened relationship with its users and ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

TrackWater: Embracing data in flood prevention

05/02/2019TrackWater: Embracing data in flood prevention

Mike Harding, from Lancaster University’s Data Science Institute, introduces us to TrackWater: an innovative project between Lancaster Univ... more >
High-speed rail cannot stand in isolation

05/02/2019High-speed rail cannot stand in isolation

Last year, the Scottish Government announced two feasibility studies to better understand the economic and environmental implications of options ... more >
Flying Banana reaps the fruit of its labour

05/02/2019Flying Banana reaps the fruit of its labour

Steve Quinby, Network Rail’s head of data collection, gives us the rundown on the state-of-the-art ‘Flying Banana’ train. ... more >
Introducing the new Passenger Assist app

05/02/2019Introducing the new Passenger Assist app

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, explains how a new app developed for the rail industry wil... more >