Rail electrification needs to be considered as a ‘whole’ not project-by-project basis Electrification needs to be looked at as a whole, not project by project, according to Railway Industry Association (RIA) technical director David Clarke.
Clarke told NCE’s Future of Rail conference that he welcomes the Transport Decarbonisation Plan’s commitment to announcing further electrification projects and ensuring lessons from previous schemes are learnt and individual projects deliver value for money.
However he urged caution about placing too much focus on individual projects at the expense of the overall electrification programme.
He said he doesn’t disagree with the “intent” of the statement that individual projects should deliver value for money but emphasised that Network Rail’s Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy – published last year – makes the case for a whole programme of electrification.
“If we start to examine individual projects we could end up with the silly situation where there’d be a business case reason to leave a gap in the wires,” he said. “We need to ensure that we include carbon and consider the whole programme.
“We’re absolutely up for the challenge of efficiency and benchmarking by project but some individual projects will be more expensive than others due to local complexity. The important thing is that the whole programme is value for money.”
In the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, the Department for Transport (DfT) has pledged to publish a pipeline of rail electrification schemes as part of its commitment to decarbonising the UK’s transport systems.
While stopping short of naming specific schemes the plan commits to “deliver an ambitious, sustainable, and cost effective programme of electrification”.
In its Overview of the English rail system, published earlier this month, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) highlights a “disappointing lack of progress in agreeing a specific and funded plan for rail electrification”, which it says will pose risks to achieving the Government’s Net Zero targets.
It also points to a “‘feast or famine’ approach” in electrification projects “which has directly caused boom and bust problems in the supply chain for the SMEs involved in the delivery of these projects and uncertainty for procurement of rolling stock.”
To tackle this the report reiterates the government’s Transport Committee’s call for “a long-term plan for rail, including a strategy for decarbonisation and electrification”.
Department of Civil Engineering https://www.ibu.edu.ba/department-of-civil-engineering/