Independent web site for Park Royal & Old Oak Common, London, and beyond
National Audit Office: "Modernising the Great Western railway" (oh, dear!)
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"The cost of modernising the Great Western railway is currently estimated to be £5.58 billion, an increase of £2.1 billion since 2013, and there are delays to the electrification of the route of at least 18 to 36 months. Delays to the electrification programme will cost the Department up to £330 million. "These cost increases and recent changes to the new trains order mean that the value for money of the programme needs to be reassessed, and the extent of electrification reconsidered, according to a report today by the National Audit Office.
"The Great Western route has some of the most overcrowded services in England and Wales and has forecast passenger growth of 81% between 2013-14 and 2018-19. The modernisation programme involves complex infrastructure works, new trains and service changes. These aim to improve services along the rail route, which connects London with west and south-west England and south Wales and passes through heritage areas and areas of outstanding natural beauty.
"Before 2015, the Department did not plan and manage all the projects which now make up the Great Western Route Modernisation industry programme in a sufficiently joined up way. The Department did not produce a business case bringing together all elements of the programme until March 2015, more than two years after ordering the trains and over a year after Network Rail began work to electrify the route. "When the Department entered into a contract to buy the Intercity Express Trains, creating fixed deadlines for electrification, the infrastructure planning work was still at a very early stage of development. This is illustrated by the fact that Network Rail had only just identified that it would need to develop a new type of electrification equipment. The electrification timetable was not based on a bottom-up understanding of what the works would involve.
"Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said:
"The modernisation of the route has potential to deliver significant benefits for passengers but this is a case study in how not to manage a major programme. The Department's failure to plan and manage all the projects which now make up the Great Western Route Modernisation industry programme in a sufficiently joined up way, combined with weaknesses in Network Rail's management of the infrastructure programme, has led to additional costs for the taxpayer.
It is encouraging that since 2015 the Department and Network Rail have a better grip and put in place structures to manage the programme in an integrated way. However significant challenges to the timetable still remain and there is more to do to achieve value for money."