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Cardiff resignalling project completion delay to 2017 confirmed

Cardiff Area Signalling Renewal (CASR), originally due for completion this year, has slipped by two years until January 2017, Network Rail has confirmed. 

The scheme to improve rail services on the Cardiff and Valleys network was split into five work phases: Vale of Glamorgan, Valley Lines, Barry, East of Cardiff, and Cardiff Central & West of Cardiff. 

Network Rail has so far been able to commission the first three. It was during the phase 4 works – East of Cardiff – when things started to go awry. Slippages in the delivery of critical path track works in summer 2014 led to significant changes in the future commissioning plan. 

As RTM reported last year, this forced Network Rail to forecast 2017 as a more likely completion date, which has now been confirmed. 

Cardiff Central cable diversion complete 2 edit

In summer 2014, two new junctions were to be created, Moorland Road Junction and Long Dyke Junction, both with ladder crossings. These were intended to reduce the need for trains to reverse at Cardiff West and give more flexibility for the platforms at Cardiff Central. An extensive programme of engineering trains was planned with a temporary virtual quarry established at Cardiff Marshalling sidings. 

But the programme of work quickly fell behind schedule, and the two crossovers are still to be installed. 

Christian Irwin, the senior project manager for CASR, who came on board after the problems at Long Dyke, told RTM: “We failed to deliver the scope of the works we needed to in 2014 and that involved some of the major track works we had to do at Long Dyke. We have now completed another 50% of them and just have the remaining crossovers to complete. 

“Over the late May bank holiday weekend we have got two large crossovers that we need to install over a three-day possession. That is the last piece of major outstanding work we need to do.” 

However, he told us that the problems at Long Dyke have had a major knock-on effect. 

“What that ultimately meant was that we couldn’t commission phase 4 when we planned to in October 2014 and this then meant we couldn’t commission phase 5 in Christmas last year,” said Irwin. “This has ultimately impacted on us because sheer demand for signalling testing resource for the whole of Network Rail across CP5 is phenomenal.” 

Irwin added that when he started on CASR he embarked on a whole re-planning process to find a gap in the Network Rail diary where he could negotiate the access with TOCs and FOCs to give the team a big disruptive possession needed to carry out the works, and get the required resources. 

 Cardiff Central Cables Before 2 edit

This meant phase 4 slipped back by about nine months and, given that the Christmas 2015 resources were already taken by all Network Rail’s other major projects, CASR had to push phase 5 back to Christmas 2016. 

“This was the first available slot of the magnitude we required,” said Irwin. “We can only do phase 5, which includes Cardiff West, over a Christmas/New Year period. That will be taking place for a period of about nine days from Christmas Eve 2016 through to 2 January 2017 – when platform 8 [the new platform at Cardiff Central] will come into operational service.” 

Network Rail’s most recent update on its high-profile projects notes that CASR’s anticipated final cost is £268m – up significantly from the original £220m. 

Irwin said the rise is a consequence of the re-planning. “We’ve declared publicly that there has been an increase of approximately £50m. We expect this to go up a little bit further, but I can’t commit to a price,” he told us – but they are “very nearly” ready to do so. RTM expects to be able to report the final price by July. 

More details and the full interview with Christian Irwin are in the April/May 2015 edition of RTM, which is now available for FREE using the new RTM App, available on iOS and Android. Search ‘RTM Magazine’ in the App Store / Google Play. 


Lutz   09/05/2015 at 13:48

It is disappointing that the work has been delayed, but the bright spot in this is that it would appear that the right level of hard-nosed program management is in place to complete the delivery to a realistic schedule.

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