01 July 2010

Under Review

The rail industry is bracing itself for the potential of up to twenty planned schemes being cancelled, as part of the Coalition Government's recent review of its Regional Funding Allocation. Additionally, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that it will not review schemes at the same level as it had previously done.

£494.5 million is the total cost of rail schemes that could potentially see the hangman's noose. Though the total pot of schemes being reviewed by the DfT totals £5 billion, so rail has on this occasion not bore the brunt - the majority of which appears to have befallen the Highways Agency.

In future, local authorities have been urged to show caution before passing a scheme onto (costly) public consultation; they are being urged to simply not consider it as the price tag of letting residents know of and pass comment on adds another financial tier which may be wasted if (when?) the scheme is turned down by the DfT.

The rule of thumb so far as rail schemes are concerned is that if construction has already started, or is pencilled in to start before the end of the year, success is likely. After that, well, I'm not a betting man, but I wouldn't head to the local bookmakers!

Uncommitted Rail Schemes
  • £8.52m Wakefield Westgate
  • £4.53m Haxby station
  • £30.58m Yorcard Smart Ticketing
  • £10.75m East Leeds Parkway station
  • £14.88m Kirkstall Forge & Apperley Bridge stations
  • £14.17m Leeds station - southern entrance
  • £25m Midland Metro - Birmingham centre
  • £53.1m Midland Metro - Wolverhampton
  • £12.42m Nuneaton-Leamington
  • £51.5m Kemble-Swindon line doubling
  • £25.3m Portishead line re-opening
  • £42m Manchester station refurbs
  • £37m Crewe rail gateway
  • £30m Tees Valley Metro
  • £22.5m Chesterton station
  • £26m Watford Junction Interchange
  • £6.2m Croxley link
  • £7.8m NET tram lines 2 & 3
  • £51m Lincoln-Nottingham line speed improvement
Local authorities have understandably taken the line that, at best, this is an "annoying delay" to proceedings and that it doesn't necessarily spell disaster for new stations at Kirkstall Forge or two new tram lines in Nottingham.

Only five schemes currently in the pipeline have been confirmed by the DfT: Birmingham Gateway/New Street station upgrade; Reading station upgrade; Manchester Metrolink extensions; Tyne & Wear Metro package; and Blackpool tram upgrade. The country's existing tram networks have faired rather well, though beneficiaries of timing rather than goodwill, we suggest.

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