A House of Lords Committee has concluded that the Government has 'yet to make a convincing case' for investing £50 billion in HS2. The figure includes rolling stock and large contingency margins, but the report suggests that the 'huge' public subsidy to HS2, an estimated net £31.5 billion, conflicts with the Government's declared objective of making rail less dependent on public subsidy. The Committee's chairman said: "We have set out a number of important questions on HS2 that the Government must now provide detailed answers to. Parliament should not approve the enabling legislation that will allow HS2 work to begin until we have satisfactory answers to these key questions." The DfT has responded that the case for HS2 remains 'crystal clear'.
Lid is lifted on Network Rail as FOI begins
Network Rail has become subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act from today. NR must now respond to FOI requests within 20 working days, and publish its responses. The range of information is wide and covers any qualifying data held by Network Rail, including historical information. The company launched a voluntary Transparency Programme in June 2012, when it began to publish more of its information and data on its website.
Derby to build new trains for First Great Western
New Bombardier Electrostars are included in the plans for the new First Great Western franchise, which will be a boost for jobs in Derby. The main fleets for long-distance services are set to be Intercity Expresses and hybrid AT300s, both from Hitachi, but eight more four-car Class 387s are being ordered from Bombardier for Thames Valley electric services. They will be added to the fleet of 29 Class 387s which is to be transferred from Thameslink.
More new Great Western trains are part of franchise award
FIRSTGROUP has reached agreement with the DfT for a further Intercity Great Western contract, after months of detailed negotiations. The new contract runs until April 2019. The GW network faces major changes between now and 2019, including electrification and new Intercity Express trains.
First wins TransPennine Express extension
The Department for Transport has moved forward with its franchising programme by extending the First TransPennine Express contract by a year to 1 April 2016. The widely-expected agreement means that FTPE will now end at the same time as Northern. First said it would continue with various improvements between now and 2016, including the extension of free WiFi at stations. It is also shortlisted for the next franchise.
Major rail investment plans for North unveiled
Ministers are publishing plans for a multi-billion upgrade of the rail network in the north of England today. They include a ‘TransNorth’ network – with sections capable of speeds up to 225kmh (140mph) - linking Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull. But shadow rail minister Lilian Greenwood said the Northern Hub project was in danger of falling behind schedule because of the delay in gaining Transport and Works Act approval. She also warned that the cost of electrification in the west of England is set to double.
£130m tram route decision announced
The route of an extension to Midland Metro in Birmingham has been chosen after a public consultation. Centro has now announced that a new tram route will run along High Street Deritend. The headline cost will be £130 million, but that includes some additional trams. The line will improve connections to the new HS2 station at Curzon Street as well as the city's coach station at Digbeth.