After recently admitting that they have fallen behind with several major projects Network rail will soon review their £38bn five-year spending plan.
Patrick McLoughlin has said that “aspects of Network Rail’s investment programme are costing more and taking longer”, going on to explain that Transport for London commissioner Peter Hendy had already been called in to replace Chairman Professor Richard Parry-Jones. It will be Hendy’s responsibility to develop proposals by the autumn to ensure that the rail upgrade programme is an achievable project.
A report last month by regulator the Office of Rail and Road revealed that Network Rail had already missed several programme delivery targets, with some projects facing delays.
The ORR report stated that 30 out of 84 milestones had been missed by Network Rail in their attempts to enhance the network, in addition to renewal work also being behind schedule.
Mark Carne, the chief executive of Network Rail has said that the body had been “overly optimistic” in regards to “the capacity of [the] company and [their] supplier base to step up several gears in order to achieve the plan”, especially with costs reaching higher rates than previously assumed. “As a result, the total enhancement programme cost now exceeds the available five year budget. Some projects are also delayed beyond the original dates.”
McLoughlin said: “Important aspects of Network Rail’s investment programme are costing more and taking longer. Construction rates have been slow. It has taken longer to obtain planning consents from some local authorities than expected.
“But that is no excuse. All of these problems could and should have been foreseen by Network Rail.”
Civil Engineering Contractors’ Association chief executive Alasdair Reisner has offered the following opinion on the situation: “While it may be necessary to shift some works into the next control period, every effort must be made to ensure they are ready for delivery in 2019. A failure to do this will have a crippling impact on capacity for some of the UKs vital rail lines.
“As an industry, we need to work with Network Rail to help it overcome these challenges, and continue the momentum of investing in UK rail.”
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