Electrification of the Great Western Main Line could be two years late, cost three times as much as original estimates, and entail suburban electric multiple units standing idle for a year, suggest sources close to the project. The Department for Transport also says it is “very concerned” about delays to electrification.
Speaking at the Commons Public Accounts Committee hearing on October 21, DfT Permanent Secretary Philip Rutnam said it would be “highly likely” that there will be delays against the original schedule of electrifying to Bristol Parkway, Newbury and Oxford by 2016, to Cardiff by 2017 and to Swansea by 2018, although he was unable to provide further details.
On the possibility of new trains being unable to run, Rutnam added: “To be clear, the Department, as the ultimate customer on behalf of taxpayers and passengers, is liable to pay for the trains whether the electrification is ready or not. So we are clearly concerned - very concerned - not only about the delays to electrification and the cost overruns, but at the prospect that we might have the electric trains designed for the Great Western Main Line, ideal to provide many benefits to passengers, and not be able to use them.”
- For more on this, read RAIL 787, published today (November 11).