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Industry calls for urgent update to Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline

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One year ago, on 16 October 2019, the Department for Transport (DfT) published the government’s Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP).

This listed the 58 projects that were then under review at the DfT. It did not include those projects that had already been approved and passed on to Network Rail.

It has never been publicly updated. However, it is understood that the pipeline now includes over 80 projects, worth £10 billion, at different stages of development. 

To recap, every major railway project now has to go through several stages.

First, having decided that a project is necessary, Network Rail does a preliminary design and comes up with a calculated cost. This is then offered to the DfT and the Treasury.

There are then five decision-making processes or gateways, and five actions resulting from them.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris.

The final decision by the DfT is the Decision to Deliver, at which stage the project is funded and passed over to Network Rail for delivery.

These projects then no longer appear in the DfT’s RNEP but are instead listed in Network Rail’s Enhancements Delivery Plan. This was last updated in June 2020 for England and Wales, and separately for Scotland.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris confirmed in a recent Parliamentary Question that the list of projects would be updated and republished annually, with the next update to be issued after the Spending Review.

Darren Caplan, RIA.

Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “In such uncertain and difficult economic times, it is vital that rail businesses have visibility of which railway projects are coming up and what government plans there are to improve the rail network.

“That is why the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline, a £10 billion list of more than 80 rail projects, is so important – its regular publication can help businesses plan and invest, ensuring the railway industry is able to deliver effectively, both supporting the Treasury’s quest for budget efficiency and the government’s overall ‘Build Back Better’ agenda.

“We welcome the recent commitment in Parliament by the Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris to publish the list annually, and now look forward to hearing more about specific rail projects when details are published around the Spending Review due this Autumn.”

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