‘You must lobby’ for rail upgrade

An additional platform for HS1 and easier interchange at Ashford

After briefing the annual meeting of the MarshLink Action Group, Lisa Goodman, senior development manager at Network Rail, took questions from the floor. These are a few of the questions that were put to her.

The business case

Sarah Owen (Lab Party candidate) How do we strengthen the business case?
Lisa Goodman Network Rail is looking at cost-effective solutions. Wider business case imperative, but Network Rail can’t impact that except by improving journey times if this scheme were to go ahead. End of April / May complete costs of scheme will be known. Then it goes into the long-term planning process, which will come out in 2016 and then be put to DfT as an option for funders.

That is as much as Network Rail can do. Political pressure to DfT and Government is an absolute requirement. This needs to come from the political powers in this area in order to push it through so it might not go through on its own rail business case but goes through on a wider social economic business case. That sits within your domains as the politicians in your area to do and to influence. So that is how you get it committed, it is through the DfT and through applying lobbying.

Network Rail will do its best to support that by putting a scheme on the table that is not unnecessary but delivers the output we need. Timings for that, again you will know what the business case is for May, and we will share that ahead of the long-term planning process to those who are interested. You will want to know so you can start your lobbying earlier, but we must follow our rail industry process . . . it is very unlikely that you will get funding before CP6 [control period 6], that is before 2019. There is no reason why we can’t get it into place in CP6 if it is a priority from the DfT for us to do that.

Availability of workers

Sarah Owen How do we ensure there are the workers available if they are already working on HS2, 2026-33?
Goodman In terms of HS2, it is not necessarily the same staff who will do this work. The staff who will do the work on the Hastings Line will be Network Rail staff and consultants . . . It will be the same expertise in terms of electrification and track. So it is just that political push to get it funded.

Cost of project

Sarah Owen Do your estimations match the figure of £140 million?
Lisa Goodman I can’t confirm that yet because I have not seen them. They can’t be seen whilst the estimators are still working through them. Potentially not. The estimations will be really thorough for this work . . . they [will] go right down to construction level so how many overhead line masts we would need, how many miles . . . as soon as we know the costings we will release them to the interested parties. Until that time I would not want to say if they were higher, lower or about the same, because I will probably be held to it!

Brede Valley crossings

Questioner We use the footpath all the time. If the train is coming through at 90mph we won’t be able to do it. What is going to happen?
Lisa Goodman Where it is not safe to keep open a footpath crossing the alternative is to put up a footbridge for you. They are in the region of about £2million per bridge. So we do rationalisation. So where we can provide one bridge and close five footpath crossings we will do it, but it is obviously of concern to Network Rail, and is of utmost importance, that we have to close level crossings if the risk level gets too high.
Questioner: It is an outrage!

See also
An expert eye on Javelin’s future, a report by Nick Taylor
Southern Rail excuses fall flat, a report by Stuart Harland





Image Credits: Rye News library .