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Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline Update (Autumn 2019) - Government provides update on rail enhancement projects seeking DfT funding

  • United Kingdom
  • Transport

03-12-2019

Background

On 16 October 2019 the Department for Transport (“DfT”) issued its “Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline Update” for Autumn 2019 (the “Enhancements Pipeline Update”). A copy of the Enhancements Pipeline Update can be found here.

The Enhancements Pipeline Update:

• seeks to provide greater clarity as to how the DfT’s “Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline” funding process operates; and

• sets out information on the enhancement schemes which are seeking funding from the DfT through the RNEP process.

PR18 and CP6

Control periods are the five year timeframes which are used for financial and planning purposes in the context of Network Rail’s ongoing operation and management of the UK’s national rail network. Control Period 6 (“CP6”) runs from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2024.

DfT funding for the operation, maintenance and renewal by Network Rail of its network during CP6 is determined by reference to the ORR’s final determination for the 2018 Periodic Review (“PR18”). A link to the PR18 final determination can be found here.

The ORR’s decisions in the PR18 final determination reflected that, in CP6, new arrangements for enhancements decision-making and funding would apply outside of the periodic review process.

The Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (“RNEP”)

The ‘new arrangements for enhancements decision-making and funding’ referred to in the PR18 final determination were set out in a document published in March 2018 and entitled “Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline: A New Approach for Rail Enhancements”. A copy can be found here.

Unlike the funding of maintenance and renewals in CP6, the RNEP has moved investment in enhancements away from the five year control period cycle and established a detailed gateway process for the approval of relevant projects. The RNEP also set out DfT’s priorities for investment in rail enhancements and illustrated the “decision gateways” through which schemes seeking funding must pass before moving to delivery.

During the first three stages of the RNEP, schemes progress through the following decision gateways:

• an exploration of issues and ideas (the “initiation” stage);

• advanced development work on a chosen option (the “development” stage); and

• detailed design and preparation towards scheme delivery (the “design” stage).

There is, however, flexibility in the system; once in the RNEP, more mature schemes or smaller, simpler schemes may bypass the early stages referred to above and move straight to a decision to deliver.

Throughout this process, schemes are scrutinised to ensure that they continue to represent value for money and align with priorities for funding.

Enhancements Pipeline Update (Autumn 2019)

The Enhancements Pipeline Update shows the progress being made in respect of schemes which are moving through the new governance process established by the RNEP. Schemes which pass through each decision gateway and receive a decision to deliver will be set out in Network Rail’s “Enhancement Delivery Plan”, a copy of which can be found here.

At a high level, the Enhancements Pipeline Update includes:

• an explanation of the RNEP decision gateway process;

• a list of schemes which are now at the determination, development and design stages of the RNEP;

• a case study in relation to the forthcoming Gatwick Airport Station improvement works project which was progressed through the RNEP; and

• an explanation as to how third party enhancement projects may access the RNEP – and the requirements to enable any such schemes to progress through the RNEP decision gateway process.

The total value of the 58 short and long term enhancement projects which are currently within the first three stages of the RNEP - and referred to in the Enhancements Pipeline Update – is in the region of £10bn1.

New schemes may enter the RNEP in due course, and the list of schemes will be updated in future publications. It is anticipated that further updates will be published on an annual basis going forward.

Comment

The Enhancements Pipeline Update provides additional visibility to interested parties as to the schemes which are at each RNEP decision gateway and the DfT’s funding decision process more generally.

It should be noted, though, that entry of a scheme into the RNEP does not guarantee delivery - the schemes listed in the Enhancements Pipeline Update will still need to pass through each RNEP “decision gateway” before entering Network Rail’s Enhancement Delivery Plan, and at each stage of the pipeline such projects will continue to be scrutinised in terms of value for money and by reference to priorities for funding.


1. See here and here.

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