Uckfield electrification in second Project Speed round

Electrification opportunity: Class 171 DMU at Uckfield.

Project Speed, a Network Rail and Government initiative to halve the delivery time and slash the cost of rail projects, has entered its second phase with a further seven schemes.

As previously revealed on Key Modern Railways, an initial six case study schemes were identified which went through a series of challenge panels and peer reviews in what an NR document calls their ‘first sprint’. A second group of seven programmes will conduct a similar ‘hypothesis sprint’ to identify a series of initiatives that can be implemented.

The seven programmes in the second round have been reported as follows, although Network Rail told Modern Railways the final list is yet to be confirmed:
■ restoration of regular passenger services to Okehampton in Devon;
■ Cambridge capacity;
■ Cardiff and Filton bank;
■ Euston station regeneration;
■ electrification of the Uckfield branch;
■ access for all at Ash Vale station in Surrey;
■ opening of a new station at White Rose, near Cottingley in West Yorkshire.

A Programme Sprint Plan for the initial six projects was agreed in mid-August, followed by an ‘implement change’ process to begin implementation of ‘quick win’ initiatives. These programmes were Croydon Area Remodelling Scheme (CARS), trans-Pennine route upgrade, Manchester reliability improvements, Northumberland line reopening, Oxford Connect and Midland main line electrification to Sheffield. The aim for the second set of projects was to agree a set of Speed initiatives towards the end of September.

In August Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has launched a new Acceleration Unit to speed up delivery of transport projects, led by Darren Shirley, formerly Chief Executive of the Campaign for Better Transport. The unit will engage experts with ‘significant experience in delivery infrastructure projects’. Its creation follows the establishment of a Northern Transport Acceleration Council targeted at levelling up infrastructure across the north’s towns and cities.