The DfT has finally published its rail network enhancement pipeline, detailing more than 50 projects currently under development.
Publication follows months of lobbying by the Railway Industry Association, which said the lack of transparency about the Government’s plans was damaging the confidence of its supplier members.
The projects in England and Wales range from the big, such as the Transpennine route upgrade, to much smaller scale station upgrades (see panel).
The pipeline was introduced last year and replaces the previous system that saw a five-year programme of enhancements announced at the start of each of Network Rail’s regulatory control periods. The enhancement programme for control period 5 (2014/15-2018/19) unravelled because of rising costs on some projects and a general poor state of readiness.
Projects pass through stages in the pipeline and have to pass a ‘decision gateway’ between stages.
Welcoming its publication, Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: “This comprehensive list of enhancements will now give rail businesses some more confidence to plan, hire and invest in preparation for upcoming work.”
However, newly-released minutes of Network Rail’s 31 July board meeting reveal members voicing frustration about the lack of progress being made on enhancements.
Minutes of a discussion about the chief financial officer’s report state: “The main concern was the lack of spend on enhancements. This was partly due to projects not progressing through governance processes and being formally approved as quickly as had been expected and therefore funding not being released to allow further development work to begin. It was now too late to recover the position for 2019/20, so work was focused on getting the approvals now to allow work to commence in 2020/21.”
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