NETWORK Rail’s management of the Great Western Route Modernisation (GWRM) has been severely criticised by the influential House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
The PAC’s Modernising the Great Western Railway report says that NR and the Department for Transport must learn from serious failings in the design, planning and costing of the project. It also casts doubt on whether it can be delivered by the December 2018 deadline or to the current cost of £2.8billion.
‘Significant flaws’ identified in the report also raise concerns about the ability of NR and the DfT to manage similar projects in the future, such as the Midland Main Line and Trans-Pennine electrification schemes.
The PAC recommends that the DfT should urgently reassess the case for electrification section-by-section and fund schemes “only where worthwhile benefits for passengers could not be achieved otherwise at lower cost”.
It cites the “staggering and unacceptable” £1.2bn increase in the cost of the Great Western electrification in just one year as evidence that more must be done to safeguard public money and ensure that projects are planned and costed more effectively in the future.
The report adds that NR failed to plan the work properly and that the DfT “failed to challenge NR’s plans effectively, despite the significant sums of public money at risk”.
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