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Manchester council leader and transport chief attack Hendy report over lack of detail

The leader of Manchester City Council has slammed Sir Peter Hendy’s report on Network Rail’s £38.5bn enhancement scheme, calling it ”ambiguous” and saying it lacks detail.

In its response to the Network Rail chairman’s probe into the delivery of the five-year enhancement programme, council leader Sir Richard Leese said the new plan “lacked transparency”, including on completion dates for projects.

Writing alongside Transport for Greater Manchester chief executive Jon Lamonte in a report published last week, Sir Richard said that omission of certain details in Sir Peter’s plans “raised serious concerns for local stakeholders”, putting ”local investment plans at risk” and giving “little confidence” that additional delays would not occur in the future.

Last June, Sir Peter was appointed chairman of Network Rail following a series of delays to its £38.5bn enhancement delivery plan.

The former Transport for London chief was tasked with replanning the delivery of Network Rail’s five-year programme.

Sir Peter published a new delivery timetable for the rail operator last November, with an amended version following in January.

Despite Sir Richard and Mr Lamonte welcoming certain aspects of the plan, such as the un-pausing of the TransPennine electrification, the pair said the amended version still left out crucial details on when certain projects and schemes of work would be finished.

“It must be better to give target dates and then identify a clear list of potential project risks that could cause delay, than just simply leave dates out altogether, even if those dates have to have a degree of contingency in them,” the pair wrote.

They added: “Some enhancement delivery plans have dates removed from obligations with no indication of timescales to commit development or delivery dates; this raises serious concerns for us and our stakeholders.”

Sir Richard’s report said “firm dates” for completion were crucial to the future planning of future rail works in Manchester and across the country, particularly when it came to track possessions.

Sir Peter’s plan was also accused of lacking transparency on the reason for delays to certain CP5 projects.

According to the TfGM response, the lack of detail attached to each project made it difficult for local stakeholders to learn lessons from previous issues and “understand risks at project interfaces with locally delivered schemes”.

The lack of visibility in terms of risks to the delivery of future projects provided “little confidence” that additional delays would not be repeated later in the programme.

The response urged Network Rail to publish a full breakdown of the CP5 programme, listing the cause of delays so far and the calculations behind new completion dates.

The Department for Transport has been contacted by Construction News.

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