MPs slam Network Rail’s infrastructure planning
MPs on the influential Commons Public Accounts Committee have raised serious concerns about rail investment in the UK in a report just published. This highlighted severe planning and budgeting failures in Network Rail’s current five-year investment programme.
In particular it points to “staggering and unacceptable” cost increases in the project to electrify the Great Western Main Line from London to Cardiff, which is now expected to cost up to £1.2bn more than the £1.6bn estimated a year ago.
The all-party committee said there was still “far too much uncertainty” on costs and eventual delivery dates for the electrification of both the Trans Pennine route and the Midland Main Line and warned more projects could be delayed in order to balance Network Rail’s budget.
In the light of its findings, the committee has called for a fundamental review of the rail regulator’s role and effectiveness in planning rail infrastructure.
It has also urged the Government to publish a revised and re-costed programme of electrification improvements, including the rationale for prioritising different schemes, following a review by Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy.
Committee chair Meg Hillier MP insisted: “Network Rail has lost its grip on managing large infrastructure projects.”