What is and is not ‘paused’
In June 2015 the government announced that the Midland Main Line (Sheffield) and Transpennine North railway electrification schemes had been ‘paused’, but was that all?
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s letter of 1 September to Lord Hollick stated that “All Network Rail schemes will continue to be delivered, with the exception of the announced schemes that have been paused, while the new Chair of Network Rail, Sir Peter Hendy, reviews the programme delivery as a whole to re-plan the portfolio”.
But the enhancements stopped or paused cannot just be Midland and Transpennine North. For example, only a few days ago the Ely Weekly News reported that plans to double-track the railway between Ely and Soham had been postponed.
[Network Rail’s plans to double railway line between Ely and Soham are postponed, Jordan Day, Ely Weekly News, September 8, 2015]
Ambitious plans to build a second railway line between Ely and Soham have been put on hold, Ely News can confirm.
Network Rail bosses say that surveys and ground installation works they have carried out show that the proposals would be “far more complex than anticipated”.
The work would have been carried out as part of Network Rail’s wider programme to provide additional capacity for freight services operating to and from the port of Felixstowe.
The Ely to Soham double-tracking was one of a small number of projects to be funded separately using the Department for Transport’s Investment Fund Framework and public consultation exercises got underway in the spring.
But the scheme is now being postponed until funding can be identified to deliver it.
Looking at the picture on Network Rail’s project page (below), it’s hard to see how the proposals are “far more complex than anticipated” engineering-wise. The page suggests the ‘complexity’ is that Network Rail can’t find any money for it, because the Department for Transport is putting its money elsewhere (into HS2).
At least one of Network Rail’s freedom of information team was under the impression that Great Western electrification had been ‘paused’, so confusion abounds. It might be helpful if the Department for Transport could provide a list of what is, and isn’t, paused.