Latest Rail News

30.10.15

Uncertainty over what new GW electrification costs cover – ORR

Network Rail’s new estimate of the cost of the Great Western electrification programme (GWEP), which has nearly doubled since last year, should not be accepted until independently verified, the ORR says. 

In written evidence submitted to the Public Accounts Committee, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said it is not possible to tell what exactly the new cost range estimate, £2.5bn to £2.8bn, actually covers. 

Specifically, Richard Price, the CEO of the ORR, does not know whether it covers just the elements of GWEP that have already been through ECAM (the enhancement cost adjustment mechanism) – that is, electrification of the routes between Maidenhead, Bristol, Cardiff and Oxford – or whether “this is the anticipated final cost of all GWEP works”, which would also include Cardiff to Swansea, the Welsh Valley Lines, Reading to Basingstoke and the Thames Valley branches. 

Just ahead of the Committee’s evidence session last week, Network Rail’s CEO Mark Carne submitted a letter with the new figures – previously unseen by the regulator – saying he was providing the range to avoid giving a “frankly spurious accuracy around a single number”. 

But Price, who also appeared in the session, has told the Committee: “If industry is presented with a cost which has not been subject to scrutiny, a value for money risk is created because Network Rail may work to an inefficient estimate and its supply chain may bid up to this amount. 

“We expect the remaining parts of the GWEP programme and other enhancement schemes to be submitted to the ORR, and these will also go through the ECAM process to establish their efficient cost.”

At last week’s session, the Committee chair Meg Hillier MP, denounced the new range as a “staggering” increase. She also claimed that both the regulator and Network Rail had fallen “asleep on the job”, saying that risks in the project should have been predictable. 

RTM also learned, during an IET electrification seminar, that Network Rail and the DfT are still in discussions as to whether timescales for GWEP should be delayed

During Parliamentary questions yesterday (29 October), transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin was quizzed over the new figures. 

He said: “Some of the costs of such electrification programmes have run over budget. That is not acceptable, but they are huge and very important schemes. I think that regenerating our railway system and making it modern for the 21st century is very important.”

Comments

Gb   30/10/2015 at 14:31

This doesn't give us much confidence in the estimates for HS2 which will be hugely greater. However, development and enhancement of our existing railway system to increase connectivity and capacity must take preference over spending money on HS2.

Pedr   30/10/2015 at 15:58

How sensible to buy new rolling stock capable either of electric or diesel-electric traction. But the indecision adds cost in this respect.

CB   02/11/2015 at 14:26

It is incredible that the CEO of the ORR does not know what the cost covers to the extent that is suggested in this article. Surely this cannot be true?

RTM   02/11/2015 at 15:52

Hi CB, You can click the link at the top of the piece and see the written evidence. Judge for yourself!

Add your comment

 

related

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 >