Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Well, that didn’t last long then

Posted in Great Britain, Infrastructure, Politics, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 27 October 2010

The Roads Man announced today some of the planned projects that will go ahead following the publication of the Spending Review, some that might go ahead, some that will have to fight amongst themselves for a limited pot of available extra money to go ahead, and some that probably won’t go ahead at least for some time. The majority of these are road projects, with none of the guaranteed ones involving rail. On the second tier of projects, described as the “supported group” (these have been “confirmed” and will be funded, subject to a “best and final offer” from local authorities over funding), we find the new southern entrance to Leeds station and the extension of the Midland Metro, something that Wee Georgie appeared to guarantee when he made his speech, given he referred to it by name. This makes one wonder what a “best and final offer” will entail and, if the Government decides that it isn’t good enough, whether the scheme will be junked? The third tier of projects, the “development group”, which are ones that will have to fight it out for a £600m pot of cash, include the Leeds Rail Growth Project, Rochdale Interchange and new vehicles for Sheffield Supertram; the Leeds project especially is important given the increasing saturation of the rail network around Leeds. The fourth and final tier is the “pre-qualification group”, which are schemes that need to be evaluated further before any decision is taken. Among these are the Croxley Rail Link and the NUCKLE scheme to improve rail links between Coventry and Nuneaton. The longed for re-doubling of the line between Swindon and Kemble is not mentioned, suggesting that it has been shelved yet again, while there is nothing said about the massive railway projects that have thus far been ignored by the Government, such as main line electrification (either of the Great Western Main Line or the Midland Main Line), IEP or the procurement of rolling stock for Thameslink. In addition, there has been an announcement that, going contrary to the recommendations of Sir Andrew Foster’s review into IEP, the Government won’t be withdrawing services from London to destinations north of Edinburgh (such as Aberdeen and Inverness) – the recommendation was that, to avoid the need for costly diesel or bi-mode IEP trains running under the wires, connections between London-Edinburgh electric services and north of Edinburgh diesel services should be improved. If through services from London to Aberdeen and Inverness are to continue, then they will need diesel trains. So what are we to make of this? Whatever it means, the level of cautious optimism from the announcements made by the Chancellor is now starting to drop. I guess we’ll see what happens when a major rail announcement is made.

“Hammond names some reprieved rail schemes”
“Through London-Highlands trains escape DfT axe”

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  1. […] of schemes that would have to fight it out for the limited pot of cash that was available. Indeed, I mentioned this at the time, and suggested that those that were lower down the list would probably fall by the wayside, what […]


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