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25.11.16

Maynard cannot confirm CP6 completion for GWML deferrals

Paul Maynard, the rail minister, was unable to confirm that deferred aspects of the Great Western Main Line electrification project will be complete in CP6 during a Westminster Hall debate this week.

Maynard announced earlier this month that he was indefinitely 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.

Responding to concerns from local MPs this week, he insisted that work such as raising bridges, improving line speeds and resignalling was “continually ongoing”, but that erecting overhead line equipment in the Greater Bristol area had been “deferred until a future control period”.

He added: “I cannot make precise statements about what CP6 will contain, because that has to be part of a wider national package.”

Charlotte Leslie, the MP for Bristol North West, who called the debate, said there was “deep concern” about the deferral, and that it “yet again appeared to leave the south west region trailing behind other parts of the country in terms of transport infrastructure investment”.

The Peninsula Rail Task Force final report, which was published this week, called for a programme of funding to solve the consequences of up to £2bn of underinvestment in rail in the south west.

Leslie added that the deferral of the electrification project was “particularly hard to swallow” in face of the growing spending on HS2.

The National Audit Office recently criticised the DfT and Network Rail for their handling of Great Western Main Line electrification. The programme was pushed back into CP6 as part of the Hendy Review, and the estimated cost ballooned from £874m to £2.8bn between 2012 and 2015.

During the debate, Leslie argued that it was “hard to believe that Network Rail is fit for purpose”, given its track record of rail projects running over time and over budget.

Maynard was also unable to confirm that Midland Main Line electrification will be completed by 2023 in response to questions from MPs.

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Comments

Robin Rees   25/11/2016 at 15:12

Just what are the nitty-gritty implications of Paddington-Bristol T.M. journeys when operated under dual mode? Can the changeover take place on the move (Thingley?), or must it be at a station (Chippenham/Swindon)? How does performance in diesel mode compare with that of an HST? Crucially, will end-to-end journey times be worse than those today?

Jimbo   25/11/2016 at 17:04

Whislt it hasn't been fully proven, it is assumed that performance of the Bi-mode units in diesel mode will be worse than the current HST's. Studies are currently being done to assess the impact, but Great Western Trains have already ordered additional units on the basis that the new trains will be slower so more units will be needed. What I find surprising here is that an external consultancy hasn't yet been bought in to review and fix the project. This is what happened when the WCML upgrade went so far over budget.

David Winter   26/11/2016 at 03:20

Maybe the mixed mode trains need an HST power car at one end.

Lutz   26/11/2016 at 18:03

The Minister's position is quite understandable and reasonable given NR's and ORR's current performance. What is still of concern is what else may yet have to be deferred. By the time we get to CP6 I am expecting that the realistic BCR on some of the deferred items will not be sufficient to justify the work going forward; it will only be political pressure that will see some of them implemented.

Pdeaves   28/11/2016 at 11:36

Robin, the IEP is designed to change over between modes at speed, so does not have to be stopped at the last/first station.

Paul Stewart   29/11/2016 at 09:55

Bi-modes are indeed designed to change mode on the move. The 1960s Euston - Birmingham - Manchester/Liverpool electrification ran out of money, was paused, considered for cancellation and downgraded (manual signal boxes remained) - its nothing new.

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