Latest Rail News

25.11.15

Network Rail budget to be topped up by hundreds of millions

Network Rail’s £38bn cash pot will be topped up by hundreds of millions of pounds to ensure it can carry out the majority of its CP5 plan, the chancellor is expected to announce today (25 November).

The extra funding, part of the Spending Review, has been ordered to mitigate the slowdown of projects, particularly after two of its biggest electrification programmes were ‘paused’ and then pushed back by several years when reinstated.

According to the Guardian, the railway top-up expected today will ensure the government can meet its manifesto pledges of improving the network between northern cities as part of the Northern Powerhouse drive, as well as boost connections from London to Norwich and Ipswich.

The two long-awaited reviews into Network Rail’s plans, by Sir Peter Hendy and Dame Colette Bowe, are also expected to be published alongside today’s Spending Review.

The paper has claimed that Hendy told central government that nearly all of the scheduled CP5 work can be delivered with additional cash, now to be made available.

In parallel, Bowe’s review will allegedly absolve ministers from direct responsibility for the CP5 failures while highlighting communication and accountability issues within the Department for Transport. In an effort to cut down on this, she will float the idea of a new mandarin role at the department with sole responsibility for rail projects.

She is also expected to criticise Network Rail for its errors, poor cost-estimates and lack of focus.

The organisation has recently admitted that it was overly ambitious with what it could achieve with the funds and resources available in CP5. The admission of guilt was included in Network Rail boss Mark Carne’s response to the Public Accounts Committee’s inquiry into the body’s investment programme.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) also came under fire as MPs called for a “fundamental review” of its ability to robustly scrutinise Network Rail’s plans and cost estimates, saying the regulator may not be fit for purpose.

The committee suggested that major enhancements may also need to be handled outside of the five-year control period model after the ORR, Network Rail and the Department agreed to an unrealistic programme that contained “too much uncertainty” of large project costs.

More details to be revealed during today’s Spending Review announcement.

Comments

Lutz   25/11/2015 at 20:16

These funds will have to come off another budget - most likely a shift from operating costs and from future years.

Poobar   25/11/2015 at 22:19

This will not address the massive resources gap that exists in the industry... it does not matter how much money you throw at it...

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