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05.03.15

Network Rail deems North Wales electrification ‘poor value for money’

Network Rail has proposed a number of capacity upgrades to the railway in Wales in the next control period and the longer term, including a major redevelopment of Cardiff Central station, improving line speeds and adding more capacity.

The proposals form part of the Welsh Route Study Draft for Consultation, and provide funders with options for Control Period 6. However, electrification of the North Wales Coast Main Line, a much-cited priority for the Welsh government and regional authorities, has been deemed “poor value for money” by Network Rail.

The plans would deliver a fully electrified railway between North Wales and London, Liverpool (assuming Halton Chord is also electrified) and Manchester.

But the report says appraisals have been carried to out to asses assess the financial viability of various options for the North Wales Coast and the “options assessed represent a poor value for money case for investment in CP6”.

The study covers the railway in Wales as well as the bordering counties. It has been developed collaboratively with the Welsh government, the Department for Transport and train and freight operating companies.

Tim James, head of strategy and planning for Network Rail Wales, said: “Our railway is carrying almost 50% more passengers than we were 10 years ago and that number is predicted to grow significantly in the years ahead.

“Work we are already doing over the next five years will make a huge difference, including electrifying parts of the railway and installing new signalling to help deliver improved reliability and the potential for more and faster journeys. There is still more to do to meet future demand.

“The Welsh Route Study Draft for Consultation sets out a number of investment choices for funders to meet increased passenger and freight demand, including a major redevelopment of Cardiff Central station and plans to modernise the railway across North Wales. Investment across the route will help to improve journeys for passengers and help to build a bigger and better railway that Wales and the borders can be proud of.”

Potential options identified by the study, which will inform funding decisions for the period 2019 to 2024, include:

  • Enhancing Cardiff Central Station to create a station ‘fit for a capital city’
  • Modernisation of the North Wales Coast Main Line between Crewe and Holyhead
  • The provision of additional passenger capacity on Cardiff Valley Lines services during peak periods and associated platform lengthening
  • A phased programme of further network enhancements on Cardiff Valley Lines and further development of Cardiff Capital City Metro proposals for rail
  • A line speed upgrade on Relief Lines between Severn Tunnel Junction and Cardiff
  • A programme of level crossing closures in west Wales
  • The continuation of additional peak services on Heart of Wales line
  • Train lengthening on selected Marches Line services between Cardiff and Manchester
  • Improved line speeds on North Wales Coast Main Line
  • Development of a new interchange station at Shotton
  • Further network capacity enhancements between Wrexham and Chester
  • Improved line speeds between Wrexham and Bidston for connections to Liverpool
  • The continuation of additional peak services on the Cambrian line

The study also considers the longer term strategy to 2043, building on the choices set out to 2024. It assesses the role that the introduction of new technology, such as future deployment of European Train Control System, might play in delivering improved safety and reliability, and providing additional capacity in the future.

The draft study is a consultation document and members of the public are encouraged to have their say during the consultation period, which ends on 9 June 2015.

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