Electrification plans have ‘fallen off the rails’

NBENBE100726d1, Belper train station
NBENBE100726d1, Belper train station

Work to electrify the railway line through Belper could be put back after Network Rail (NR) admitted it had been ‘overly optimistic’ about completing a five-year rail improvement plan on time.

The company released a statement last week admitting it is running behind with certain improvement schemes in the £38 billion plan.

The news came shortly after representatives from Network Rail attended the Belper Civic Forum’s annual general meeting, where they provided an update on the town’s rail electrification plan.

Roger Shelley, of the Civic Forum, told the Belper News: “They told us that work could start as early as the end of next year, but the timescale was perhaps a little bit optimistic.

“They said a public workshop is planned for next year.

“Obviously a lot of the structures and architectures surrounding that area are highly significant so there was always going to have to be plenty of consultation.

“They also said that the platform would need to be rebuilt because of a difference in the height of the new tracks.”

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne made a statement saying that all projects under the rail improvement plan would now be ‘revisited.’

He said: “It has become clear that Network Rail signed up to highly-ambitious five-year targets set by the regulator.

“Based on historic improvements from a low base, we were overly optimistic about the capacity of our company.

“On the big items like electrification and capital projects, it was always part of the regulatory process that the costs and programme would be revisited as projects became properly defined.”