Network Rail’s CP6 programme is looming into view while several CP5 projects continue to hog the headlines. Lucy Alderson looks at the latest developments on five of the most high-profile schemes.
Midland Main Line
Midland Main Line upgrade_Network Rail_Masts installed between Kettering and Corby
Midland Main Line electrification was first proposed in the 1970s, yet only the London to Bedford section was completed before the scheme was ditched in the following decade.
Interest in electrifying the Midland line gradually returned, driven by its potential to cut costs, reduce emissions and improve train performance. However, in 2009 the then transport secretary Lord Adonis decided to prioritise the Great Western Main Line, with the Midlands Main Line kicked into the long grass once more.
In 2012 Conservative transport secretary Justine Greening announced funding had been released for the scheme as part of a wider £4.2bn “rail revolution”, but the project was paused in July 2015 by her successor Patrick McLoughlin amid reports of missed targets and cost overruns.
After restarting three months later, the project ran into further difficulties in July 2017 when transport secretary Chris Grayling scrapped electrification on the lines to the north of Kettering and Corby. Instead, bi-mode trains – electro-diesel locomotives – will be used on this part of the line to avoid “disruptive” electrification works.
Carillion had been the main contractor for the London to Corby route of the scheme, and its collapse in January saw work grind to a halt. After weeks of uncertainty, it was announced last week that Amey had picked up the contract and Carillion staff working on the project will be transferred to Amey.
Network Rail Waterloo 1
Waterloo was buckling under the pressure of accommodating for a 100 per cent increase in passenger capacity in the past 20 years, prompting Network Rail to invest £800m to improve and increase capacity at the station.
In April 2016, Aecom, Colas Rail, Mott MacDonald and Skanska scooped a £453m contract to transform Waterloo International Terminal and deliver platform modifications elsewhere in the station, with Skanska’s part of the scheme worth in excess of £165m.
In August last year, platforms one to four were extended to allow train operator South Western to run 10-carriage trains along the tracks from December. Platforms 20-24 will be brought back into use, platforms five and six will be shortened and the end of platforms seven and eight will be narrowed.
The revamped Waterloo International Terminal is due to re-open in December 2018.
Network Rail TransPennine route upgrade map
This scheme will see journey times across the North from Newcastle, Hull and York towards Manchester and Liverpool via Leeds reduced while enabling more frequent services.
However, the project is currently at a standstill while it awaits the necessary government backing, despite contractors having been announced for the works.
In March 2017 Construction News revealed that an Amey / Bam Nuttall joint venture will deliver works to the west of Leeds, with a Murphy / Siemans alliance overseeing the programme east of Leeds.
Potential infrastructure options for the route have been submitted to the Department for Transport for consideration.
Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne revealed at the CN Summit last year that he expected the TransPennine upgrade to begin in Control Period 6 – the next funding round from 2019 to 2024.
It was confirmed in February this year that Network Rail has earmarked funding for the scheme to be delivered in CP6, though the JVs are still awaiting a precise start date.
Great Western Main Line
Network Rail Great Western trackworks
The Great Western Main Line’s electrification has been plagued by difficulties since it was first announced in Network Rail’s 2014-18 rail investment programme.
In September 2014, it was estimated that electrifying the route between London and Cardiff would cost £1.6bn. However, Network Rail bosses were hauled in front of MPs on a public accounts committee in November 2015 to explain why the programme’s budget had spiralled, with chief executive Mark Carne admitting it could cost between £2.5bn and £2.8bn.
A year later, four projects within the overall Great Western programme were put on hold until CP6 – namely the electrification of lines between Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads, Bath and Bristol, Henley and Windsor, and Oxford and Didcot.
Then in July 2017, transport secretary Chris Grayling reduced the scope of the programme by announcing that Cardiff to Swansea would not be electrified.
East West Rail
Network Rail East West Rail phase 2 map 1
This scheme envisages a new railway between Oxford and Cambridge to improve connectivity between the east and west of England.
Three phases have been set out for the work: western, central and eastern.
Section one of the western phase was completed in December 2016, with an updated connection built between Oxford and Bicester village. Section two of the western phase will upgrade and reconstruct routes between Bicester to Bedford, and is currently at consultation stage.
In December 2015 Atkins, Laing O’Rourke and VolkerRail were picked to design and construct the central phase, which covers works between Bedford and Cambridge.
The following summer saw the selection of a preferred geographic corridor for this leg of the route. Possible detailed route options continue to be considered, with construction works potentially starting in the mid-2020s.