Open for Business campaign could benefit West Country

DISCRETE ELECTRIFICATION over the Devon banks is one of many projects Network Rail says could be funded, financed or delivered by third parties during Control Period 6 (2019-24).

A document detailing potential opportunities suggests partial wiring could be part of a ‘suite of interventions reducing journey times and improving connectivity to the west’. The ‘speed to the west’ project incorporates aims to cut journey times on services between the West Country and London. Improving the resilience of the railway between Exeter and Teignmouth is also included in the list of private sector opportunities. However, NR cautions that inclusion in the list does not represent a commitment to deliver a project. Other improvements on the Western include delivery of a masterplan for Oxford station, redevelopment of Cardiff Central station, building a country-end concourse at Paddington and the Western Rail Link to Heathrow, for which a market sounding exercise is already underway (p90, August issue).

A range of major projects across the country feature in the potential list of opportunities. In East Anglia, building a loop north of Witham on the Great Eastern main line, doubling or grade separating Haughley Junction north of Stowmarket, doubling Trowse swing bridge outside Norwich and enhancements in the Ely area are offered as potential schemes.

In the North East, the upgrade of the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne line for reintroduction of passenger services is among the schemes included. Refurbishment of Leeds station (with scope dependent on available funding) and building new stations in West Yorkshire also feature, along with introduction of Digital Railway technology on the south end of the East Coast main line, for which NR is currently undertaking an Early Contractor Involvement exercise (p19).

An upgrade of the Cumbrian Coast line and enhancements at Carlisle station feature in the North West, while in the Midlands projects include a capacity increase to enable CrossCountry to divert a service from the direct route between Birmingham and Leamington via Solihull to serve Birmingham International, along with improvements at Birmingham Snow Hill and University stations.

In third rail territory, potential projects include congestion relief at Waterloo, regeneration of Victoria with replacement of the station roof, additional capacity at Lewisham, Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill stations in south London, construction of the new Thanet Parkway station in Kent and enhancements to the Marshlink line from Ashford to Hastings to improve journey times and deliver better connectivity.

Network Rail launched the ‘Open for Business’ campaign following the Hansford review into contestability in the rail market. In his appearance before the House of Commons Transport Committee, new NR Chief Executive Andrew Haines suggested involving the private sector in schemes could help introduce contestability and that this would be best applied to schemes where most of the work could be delivered without interfering with the running of the railway, citing the Western Rail Link to Heathrow and building a loop on the Felixstowe branch to increase capacity as examples.

Speeding to the west: GWR has introduced Hitachi-built Class 802s on services between London and the West Country (p82). Nine-car bi-mode No 802101 runs along the sea wall at Dawlish with the 07.30 Paddington to Penzance working on 5 September 2018.
D.W.V. Hunt