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Control Period 5: Now Arriving in 2016

  • David
  • 20 Jan 2016
  • Rail

With the redevelopment of London Bridge station, the completion of Scotland’s Borders Railway and a host of electrification and platform work scheduled to take place during Control Period 5 (CP5) of Network Rail’s planning, it was always going to be a busy, transformative one.

As time has passed, there have been several changes to CP5’s initial pledges. With us closing in on the third year of the control period, which is scheduled to run up until April 2019, it seems like a good time to check on the plan’s overall status.

The Hendy Review

When Sir Peter Hendy was appointed as chairman of Network Rail in July 2015, he was tasked with reviewing CP5’s enhancement programme and determining what could still realistically be delivered despite missing many milestones.

This report to the Department for Transport about the status and direction of Network Rail’s Investment Programme, was a move to address concerns and ensure the company, which owns and manages most of the UK’s rail network, makes the best possible decisions.

Despite some previous shortcomings, the overall outcome is a positive one. Sir Peter Hendy disclosed:

"Working closely with the Department for Transport (DfT) we have ensured that no infrastructure project has been cancelled and the bulk of the investment programme will be delivered by March 2019.”

The main findings of the Hendy Review include:

  • CP5 was Network Rail’s largest, most ambitious programme to date
  • Most of CP5’s projects will be delivered within budget and on time
  • However, some projects will take longer and cost more
  • The plans for some projects, particularly electrification work, were overly optimistic.
  • It finds the original plan “unrealistic and undeliverable” and blames this on inadequate planning, as well as changes in scope.
  • To account for higher costs, Network Rail will reduce manageable renewals activity and raise £1.8 billion by stripping non-core assets

The review in its entirety can be accessed via the Network Rail website.

The Next Stop

The Enhancement Delivery Plan update, released on the back of the review, is expected to be published in early 2016. This falls behind the “early December” timeline mentioned in Hendy’s report.

This delay and the consultation following its release could take the best part of two months to be resolved. While this could potentially delay some projects further, this is unlikely and is perhaps fitting of Sir Hendy’s stance. Quoted as saying “what matters to me is that it works well” on his appointment, he is clearly committed to doing things right.

If the findings within the report are actioned in a timely manner, there’s no reason to doubt the majority of CP5’s original goals can still be completed.

As well as the authoritative start to Sir Hendy’s leadership, there are several major projects due to get underway or complete across the UK this year.  Amongst these, Paddington Station will complete its preparation for the Great Western route upgrade and major work will resume on the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme, commonly referred to as EGIP.

With 2016 moving quickly and Control Period 6 getting closer by the day, we’ll be keeping a close eye on developments throughout the rail sector and will keep you updated throughout.

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