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Refreshed business case indicates East West Rail benefits

The East West Rail Consortium is refreshing the economic case for Phase 2 of the East West Rail Western Section project (EWR-WS), as part of its push to ensure that construction is started at the earliest opportunity within Control Period 5 (April 2014-March 2019).

Phase 2 covers the reinstatement of passenger services on the lines linking Aylesbury and Oxford to Milton Keynes and Bedford (RAIL 780). An early, unvalidated draft seen by RAIL in late November indicates that because of an increased, more strategically-focused scope and related higher costs, the wider economic benefits forecast to be delivered over 30 years have increased significantly.

While the Hendy report says of Phase 2 only that “delivery will be started as soon as possible”, it is thought likely that there could be a delay of several years before the scheme is completed (RAIL 788).

It will be some time before the Department for Transport’s final verdict is known, giving the opportunity for those affected by any recommendations to make detailed representations. Since July 2012 the Western Section has been fully funded as part of the DfT’s CP5 High Level Output Specification (RAIL 701).

A 2012/13 report by Atkins showed that the ‘core scope’ with five trains an hour in each direction would cost £748 million, including electrification and an ‘optimism bias’ uplift.

However, the more strategic ‘incremental scope’ that the DfT has asked Network Rail to evaluate, and which would entail nine trains per hour and improved line speeds and track layout, is priced at £1.484 billion.

  • For much more on this, see RAIL 789, published on December 9. 

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