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Author Topic: Cutting the cost of electrification  (Read 568 times)
grahame
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« on: March 14, 2019, 08:53:39 am »

From New Civil Engineer

Quote
Rail electrification costs slashed in 10-year plan

The cost of rail electrification projects could be slashed by as much as 50%, if the government commits to a 10-year pipeline of work, according to the Railway Industry Association (RIA).

In its Electrification Cost Challenge report, the RIA claims that lessons learned from the Great Western Electrification Programme (GWEP) – which went £1.8bn over budget – could result in project cost savings of between 33% and 50%.

According to the RIA, one of the main reasons the GWEP cost rose from £1bn in 2009 to £2.8bn in 2016 was because of the “feast or famine” approach taken by the government to electrifying the UK’s rail network.

I've been thinking for years (and I know I'm not alone) that an ongoing program would be a darned sight cheaper per mile electrified that a "flood then drought" system.
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2019, 09:37:41 am »

Not only railways, most public services. Also saving on maintenance, until it is that bad that you have to replace it; stations, bridges, barracks, etc. etc.
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stuving
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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2019, 10:45:40 am »

The RIA has just released its report* resulting from the "RIA Electrification Cost Challenge". The RIA styles itself "the voice of the rail supply industry", so this report is the view of the engineering companies that made the bits and did most of the work, including some of the design. Since most of them also work for other European railways, it should provide a realistic comparison with their methods too.

The RIA's summary page says:
Quote
The Electrification Cost Challenge report shows how future electrification schemes can be delivered at 33-50% lower cost.

The Electrification Cost Challenge (ECC) report uses examples from the UK and internationally to show that the high costs seen on recent projects, including the Great Western Electrification Programme, can be avoided in the future. It suggests that significant increase in cost on some past projects  like Great Western should be seen as a one-off, caused by an unrealistic programme of work, unpreparedness in using novel technologies resulting in poor productivity and a ‘feast and famine’ electrification policy.

The purpose of the report is to:
  •     Set out the benefits of electrification for passengers and customers, and how it supports the Government’s Decarbonisation Challenge;
  •     Summarise UK electrification strategy since 2007;
  •     Discuss the Great Western Electrification Project (GWEP) and the reasons that it failed;
  •     Highlight the lessons that have been learnt; and
  •     Highlight evidence that electrification can be, and is being, delivered for between 33%-50% of the costs of some recent projects using examples from around the UK and internationally.

There's a lot in this document to take in; I'll just put one short quote here (from p43):
Quote
It says something about the ability of the rail industry to forget hard won experience that the ECML lessons learnt included “The importance of obtaining listed building and other permissions was not appreciated at the outset”.

As well as the earlier NAO report, this report also cites the initial report of the Rail Industry Decarbonisation Task Force (from RSSB in January 2019). That provides the underlying justification for future electrification - it's the only way to meet the decarbonisation objectives.

*No live link - I can't make it work - use the button in the web page quoted above.
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2019, 06:07:12 pm »

Probably not on your reading list, but Public Health England (PHE) have released their document relating to outdoor air quality and public health:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/784055/Review_of_interventions_to_improve_air_quality.pdf
260 pages of heavy reading, i have scanned it, electric trains are good diesels aren't. Work hasn't compelled me to read it, so that will probably be it for me. But in many respects it is another well meaning PHE document that is probably counter productive. Most of the bits that are green (on their graphics) the politicians wouldn't touch with a barge pole. Oh well more (electronic) shelf fillers.
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2019, 08:18:09 pm »

From New Civil Engineer

Quote
Rail electrification costs slashed in 10-year plan

The cost of rail electrification projects could be slashed by as much as 50%, if the government commits to a 10-year pipeline of work, according to the Railway Industry Association (RIA).

In its Electrification Cost Challenge report, the RIA claims that lessons learned from the Great Western Electrification Programme (GWEP) – which went £1.8bn over budget – could result in project cost savings of between 33% and 50%.

According to the RIA, one of the main reasons the GWEP cost rose from £1bn in 2009 to £2.8bn in 2016 was because of the “feast or famine” approach taken by the government to electrifying the UK’s rail network.

I've been thinking for years (and I know I'm not alone) that an ongoing program would be a darned sight cheaper per mile electrified that a "flood then drought" system.

Even British Railways suffered from the stop start electrification.  During the lean times BR was able to deploy its construction teams to assist with maintenance and even with cooperation of its 2 suppliers to do some work on "spec"


The UK has been for decades been politically adverse to spending money on infrastructure, its always a fight to squeeze funding out of the public purse, even Network Rails CP6 funding method is different to previous control periods, if the funds are not spent each year there is no rolling over to the next year, the levels of renewals in CP6 and new schemes has been shrunk down compared to the last 15 years
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2019, 09:26:48 pm »

There's also an article on making electrification affordable in the March 2019 edition of Modern Railways.
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stuving
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« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2019, 11:25:57 pm »

The ECC report summarises the reasons for the high cost of GWEP thus:
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The GWEP programme was over-ambitious in trying to introduce internationally novel technology – Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) and Plant – on a live project resulting in the design and development of the equipment being incomplete before construction started. Additionally, there was a non-negotiable date for the introduction of new electric trains over which industry had no control, announced before the infrastructure project had been fully scoped and costed, and which added a further major level of risk to timely and cost-efficient delivery. All this against the background of an industry that had not undertaken an electrification project the scale of GWEP for 20 years and so skills and experience needed to be rebuilt.

Reading the report, what stands out is the high cost of inexperience, where the lack of confidence led to very conservative designs. The section on foundations shows how this led to very long poiles that the HOOP trains couldn't cope with:
Quote
In 2012 the assumption on GWEP was that the majority of foundations would be 5m long steel piles placed using the ‘factory train’ (See Section 13). This approach was consistent with the long established ‘ORE/ OLEMI’ empirical design guidance which had been used on previous UK electrification schemes. However, when detailed design was started the ORE method was not used and a ‘first principles’ limit state design approach was adopted as the loads resulting from, amongst other things, higher wire tensions were considered to beyond the evidence base which underpinned the empirical rules. Not only that but different designers were responsible for the OLE system, the masts and the foundations. These interfaces, combined with some unduly onerous design assumptions including design life, resulted in designs for piles up to 12 to 15m long. Another factor as illustrated in Figure 12 was the decision to place piles further from the track to avoid buried cables which meant a significant loss in the power the piling equipment could apply due to the increased operating radius. This also meant the cantilevers27 or portals needed to be longer increasing the loading on the pile which meant it had to be longer still. Unsurprisingly the ‘factory train’ struggled to drive such long piles and productivity was very poor. Many piles were left protruding from the ground requiring de-design and/or repositioning. This resulted in inefficient multiple visits.

All of these issues were further compounded by the immaturity of the OLE design when piling operations commenced which meant that piles, even when installed successfully, were often found to be in the wrong place when the OLE design was completed.
[..]
By 2015 it was recognised that the Great Western was not so different from previous electrification schemes and there was no justification for piles sometimes up to twice as long as previous experience for the same application28. Network Rail therefore undertook a review29 of past experience with the ORE method and commissioned research and full-size tests from the University of Southampton which demonstrated that the ORE method was adequate and therefore it had simply been unnecessary to install the very long piles which had so damaged productivity on Great Western.

That explains some of the less less detailed comments, such as the NAO's.

But that kind of issue can be picked up with a quite limited amount of inputs from more experienced outsiders, which might include some of the contractors, so why did that never happen?
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eightonedee
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« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2019, 11:38:18 pm »

Quote
All of these issues were further compounded by the immaturity of the OLE design when piling operations commenced which meant that piles, even when installed successfully, were often found to be in the wrong place when the OLE design was completed.

And indeed there are a number of half+ driven but unused piles alongside the track, including stretches such as Didcot to Oxford that have now been deprived (hopefully temporarily) of their OHL as permanent testament to this. They are the 21st Century equivalent of the atmospheric railway pump houses.

I had not realised this review was being undertaken, so will stop harping on about why such a review has not been undertaken, but instead do so about how the lesson has not been learnt and why are we not committed to a long term electrification plan across the remainder of  the GW and UK mainline network (and busier/longer branches).

Electrification now! - no more bi-/tri-mode lash-ups or explosive hydrogen trains!
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grahame
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2019, 04:38:51 am »


Reading the report, what stands out is the high cost of inexperience, where the lack of confidence led to very conservative designs.

Quote
[text from report]

That explains some of the less less detailed comments, such as the NAO's.

But that kind of issue can be picked up with a quite limited amount of inputs from more experienced outsiders, which might include some of the contractors, so why did that never happen?

We're talking in this thread about the cost of electrification ... but is there a common thread for the cost of just about anything on the railways?

Let's look at station build inflation ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dilton_Marsh_railway_station
Quote
The Great Western Railway opened "Dilton Marsh Halt" on 1 June 1937. The wooden platforms were 300 feet (91 m) long and were provided with small wooden shelters; the construction cost £1,134.

http://www.in2013dollars.com/1937-GBP-in-2018
Quote
In other words, £100 in 1937 is equivalent in purchasing power to £6,636.10 in 2018, a difference of £6,536.10 over 81 years. The 1937 inflation rate was 3.75%. The inflation rate in 2018 was 2.48%. The 2018 inflation rate is higher compared to the average inflation rate of 1.80% per year between 2018 and 2019.
So in 2019 terms, the cost of building a Dilton Marsh would be £75,253 looking at the general inflation rates

Let's take a look at wage inflation over the same period
Filling in a form at https://www.icalculator.info/inflation/salary-inflation-calculator.html
Quote
2019   £57,000.00   = 1937   £1,138.22
So in 2019 terms, the cost of building a Dilton Marsh would be £57,000 looking at the wage inflation rates

I wonder whether a budget of even fifty times the adjusted costs from 1937 (£2.85 million or £3.76 million) would be sufficient these days!
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TonyK
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2019, 08:51:49 am »

But you wouldn't build a station with wooden platforms and "small wooden shelters" these days. Not anywhere.

The matter of electrification is interesting. There was no doubt something of a start-up cost before the work began. Design, procurement of the HOOP train, training, but I cant see how that would reach 9 figures, let alone 10. Moving all the roads slightly to the left, raising bridges by a metre or so - that's what did for the budget, plus the unanticipated consequences of digging holes by the side of the tracks quickly, to save time. But surely the cost of the actual electric bit - stanchions, small dangly bits, cable, transformers and the like - should have been fairly easy to calculate? If you need 100 kilometres of cable and the cost is £10 per metre isn't too difficult to work out. One days, someone will figure out what went so wrong.

Meantime in Germany, the electrification team, now with years of experience, is going on quietly with the aim of electrifying 200 Km per year.
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2019, 09:23:05 am »

For what it's worth - if anything - I have decided that only candidates or parties who either support or commit to a rolling programme of railway electrification will be potential recipients of my vote at the next General Election (?2022). And if not previously sorted out the programme would have to include completion of all the missing bits of the current GW scheme such as via Bath, BPW<>BRI & Oxford.
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Lee
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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2019, 09:34:54 am »

Going back to Dilton Marsh, when the platforms were recently lengthened, the work included new shelters and on both the existing platform sections, they seemed to be encompassed by scaffolding, giving the overall appearance of a complete station rebuild.

Do we know how much that all cost as a comparator figure? Im sure someone like grahame must have the figure buried somewhere in the correspondence that circulated at the time.
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grahame
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« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2019, 01:06:19 pm »

Going back to Dilton Marsh, when the platforms were recently lengthened, the work included new shelters and on both the existing platform sections, they seemed to be encompassed by scaffolding, giving the overall appearance of a complete station rebuild.

Do we know how much that all cost as a comparator figure? Im sure someone like grahame must have the figure buried somewhere in the correspondence that circulated at the time.

I do recall keeping an eye out for the various platform lengthening costs ... but don't recall any "ah, ha" moment when  I round them.  One or two other members may have data, or be able to point us in the right direction.

Virtually complete rebuild at platform level.   The ramps up from the road to the platforms (which are probably still longer than even the new platforms), and the gates / sign boards / station fixings I don't think were changed.

But you wouldn't build a station with wooden platforms and "small wooden shelters" these days. Not anywhere.

No, you wouldn't.   These things have moved on from wood through concrete to other modern materials.

We had a thread on pop up stations last year, and if a station with two short platforms and two small shelters (whatever the material) could be build for even £150,000 - that's twice what Dilton Marsh cost in the first place after inflation is considered - there would be numerous places worth trying out under Speller experimental rules.
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« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2019, 01:23:07 pm »


But you wouldn't build a station with wooden platforms and "small wooden shelters" these days. Not anywhere.

No, you wouldn't.   These things have moved on from wood through concrete to other modern materials.

We had a thread on pop up stations last year, and if a station with two short platforms and two small shelters (whatever the material) could be build for even £150,000 - that's twice what Dilton Marsh cost in the first place after inflation is considered - there would be numerous places worth trying out under Speller experimental rules.

Meantime, the cost of the Portway park and ride, due for completion on 2013 at a cost of £400,000 is running at £2.23 million by the time it opens later this year. That will need one platform. Something didn't go to plan.
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« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2019, 01:30:48 am »

Worth noting too that we have the specific cost example of when the Dilton Marsh platforms were rebuilt in concrete in 1994 - That cost £180,000
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