Agenda Item 8
West of England Joint Transport Board
17 March 2017
MetroWest Phase 1 Design and Cost Update
1. To provide an update on the scheme design and report a significant increase in the
estimated scheme cost. To consider the options for taking the scheme forward
based on the discussions with Network Rail and the Department for Transport (DfT),
which recognise the strategic benefits of the scheme and recommend a staged
approach for the delivery of the scheme.
2. MetroWest Phase 1 is a jointly promoted scheme between the four Councils in the
West of England. The aim of the MetroWest Programme is to deliver a Metro local
rail network, similar to comparable sized city regions, through targeted investments,
making use of strategic rail corridors, including freight only lines and dis-used lines.
3. The scheme objectives are to:
support economic growth
deliver a more resilient transport offer
reduce congestion on the highway network
improve accessibility to the rail network
make a positive contribution to social well-being
4. The scheme will result in a wide range of strategic and local benefits. These include
giving 50,000 people access to the rail network, enhancing the level of service for
tens of thousands of existing rail customers, increasing railway capacity, extending
the benefits of GW electrification and supporting job creation and housing growth.
5. The scheme preliminary business case was reported to Joint Transport Board in
September 2014. The headline outputs were as follows:
GRIP Stage1 2 (Feasibility)
Scheme Capital Cost £58.2M
BCR2 2.92 to 5.99
No of train sets required 6 gross (4 net)
Train type Class 15x or 16x
Train service revenue support3 £5.29m total for first three years
1 The GRIP process (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) is the standard methodology by
which all rail schemes are designed and delivered by Network Rail.
2 The BCR (Benefit to Cost Ratio) is used to determine whether a scheme represents value for
money. A BCR above 2 represents high value for money.
3 After the first three years operation the Government then meet future costs subject to criteria.
6. The preliminary business case also set out the key work streams needed to deliver
the scheme. As well as the engineering design, the other most significant element
was the requirement to secure a Development Consent Order (DCO). This
requirement is determined by the Planning Act (2008) which states that all schemes
with more than 2km of new railway need a DCO.
7. It is important to note that Phase 2 of MetroWest (Henbury/ Yate corridors), is not
affected by the funding challenges of MetroWest Phase 1 and continues to be
progressed as planned.
GRIP Stage 3
8. Since work on GRIP 3 began, a number of engineering and other challenges have
emerged that have increased costs and these have been reported to previous Joint
Transport Board meetings including the most recent in January 2017. The GRIP 3
design (Outline Design) is now complete and this has allowed Network Rail to
complete the GRIP 3 cost estimate. In accordance with the GRIP process, this is
only possible once the design has been agreed and signed off by all the relevant
Route Asset Managers within Network Rail and a full cost validation undertaken.
9. The overall capital cost ranges from £145M to £175M to deliver the full project
scope (railway, highway, DCO, environmental mitigation etc), compared with a
scheme budget of £58.2M, based on GRIP stage 2.
10. The key drivers for the increase are as follows:
A significant increase in the scope of work through the Avon Gorge in order to;
meet modern safety standards to enable operation of a scheduled passenger
train service, to deliver the necessary line speeds to achieve the 2 trains per
hour aspiration and the poor access reducing construction productivity.
The impact of the full service pattern (2 passenger trains per hour all day)
alongside existing freight services, at the Ashton Vale Level crossing on rail
safety, highway safety, traffic and the industrial estate resulting in the need to
consider an alternative access from the A370/ rear of the site.
The consequential impact from the above on the amount of land, DCO
(planning) requirements and environmental mitigation needed for the scheme.
The increased risks associated with the project following the expanded works
and recently identified constraints. As currently configured, the scheme has
significantly more delivery risks than previously identified, relating in particular to
the construction programme, technical interface, and environmental mitigation.
Options for MetroWest Phase 1 moving forward
11. The scheme has now reached a stage where the original full scope cannot be
delivered by the currently available budget. Some £8M has already been invested in
the technical development of the scheme, by the Councils and the Local Enterprise
Partnership through the Local Growth Fund, and a further £950k has been invested
by North Somerset Council in strategic land acquisition. A variety of options for the
scheme are available, ranging from the delivery of the scheme as a whole to delivery
of the scheme in stages with sub-options relating to the train service pattern, rolling
stock length, stations and cross-Bristol connectivity. The broad options for the
Option 1 - Do nothing cancel the entire scheme
Option 2 - Continue to promote the scheme as currently proposed
Option 3 - Deliver the scheme in stages
12. Option 1: Do nothing cancel the entire scheme. This would have a number of
detrimental implications. It would leave the M5 Junction 19 / A369 corridor without
a resilient transport offer. This would not be a tenable situation over the medium to
long term; putting job creation, environmental sustainability and economic growth
at risk. It would also result in revenue reversion costs falling to the four Councils.
13. Option 2: Continue to promote the scheme as currently proposed. Meeting a
funding gap of around £100M would be very challenging. Given the size of the gap
it would require additional funding from Government and securing this scale of
additional investment in the timescales required is unlikely to be achieved. It would
also likely require a substantial local contribution which could only be managed by
reprioritisation of existing funding sources i.e. Local Growth Fund, City Deal and
any other funding the Councils have access to in order to reduce the gap,
necessitating postponing the delivery of other strategic transport priorities.
14. This option would be a high risk approach because the Development Consent Order
requires the promoter to confirm all the funding to deliver the scheme is in place. If
we were to proceed as originally planned then we would anticipate making the DCO
application at the end of this year which effectively sets the deadline by which the
funding gap would need to be resolved. Furthermore, there would also continue to
be a significant level of expenditure preparing the DCO application, including
statutory consultation and further technical work to complete GRIP stage 4,
highway design, land assembly, environmental assessment and legal workstreams.
On balance therefore, this option is not recommended at this time.
15. Option 3: Deliver the scheme in stages. Since the likely increase in cost was first
realised the project team have been working to reduce the cost of the scheme, rescoping
some elements and looking at a potential staged delivery of the scheme to
better match both total available budget and the spend profile of the available
16. Stage A would be to deliver the Severn Beach Line and Bath Spa Line infrastructure
and train service upgrade. This would require the completion of design of
infrastructure at Bathampton and Avonmouth and delivering it using Permitted
Development rights. It would also require revisions to the train timetable to ensure
that linking just the Seven Beach Line with the Bath Spa Line could be achieved
efficiently (without additional train rolling stock). The revenue support implications
would also require further investigation. The capital cost of this stage could be
delivered within the existing scheme budget, and delivered within the current
programme by 2020. This is subject to technical & funding approval and detailed
operational arrangements with Great Western Railway and the DfT.
17. Stage B would be to deliver an initial passenger service for the Portishead Line. This
has the advantage of reducing the funding requirement in the short-term and also
allow the early demonstration of some of the benefits of the project. It would
potentially make securing the full funding more achievable and reduce risk exposure
at each stage. While further design and cost estimation for Stages A and B needs
to be undertaken, the extent of infrastructure required for Stage B could be
significantly reduced. For example, the line speed for the existing Portbury Freight
Line is unlikely to require increasing, also the extent of double tracking works and
junction enhancement works is likely to be much more limited, for a reduced
passenger service specification. While this would potentially substantially reduce
costs, it is likely that some additional funding above the current budget would still be
required. Further technical work needs to be undertaken to identity the extent of the
potential cost savings and this will be reported to the next available Joint Transport
Decision Making Meeting and Joint West of England Committee. Therefore it is
recommended this work is investigated further.
18. A further stage (Stage C) would be to deliver the full two passenger trains per hour
service to Portishead. The delivery of Stage B would bring the Portishead Line
back into the national rail network. This would place a responsibility on Network
Rail and the wider rail industry to respond to growth in passenger demand and
increase operating capacity subject to overall strategic priorities and availability of
funding and business case. See para 26 and 27 which provide an overview of how
Network Rail is funded. In summary Option 3 could entail the following stages:
Stage A Deliver the service improvements on the Severn Beach & Bath
Stage B Deliver an initial rail passenger service to Portishead
Stage C Deliver the full two trains per hour passenger service to Portishead
at a later date.
19. Stakeholder meetings are normally held soon after Joint Transport Board meetings.
The next stakeholder meeting is planned for May 2017, time and venue to be
20. Key risks form part of the quarterly reporting to the Board. Risks at the project and
programme level are managed through the Rail Programme Board.
21. New stations and services provided under MetroWest will be designed to meet all
statutory accessibility standards. Consultation will ensure wide opportunities for
diverse groups to have their say. Equality Impact Assessments will be undertaken
and maintained and updated as the scheme progresses.
Resources (financial and personnel)
22. The estimated spend for 2016/17 is £2.76M, comprising of Local Enterprise
Partnership Local Growth Funding. The proposed train services will require
financial support from the local authorities for the first three years. Subject to
meeting value for money criteria the Department for Transport may fund the
services from then on. Continued development of the scheme Business Case will
refine the levels of financial support required.
Environmental Impact Assessment
23. Modern rolling stock contributes less carbon emissions than other forms of
transport, on a passenger kilometre basis. Reinstating the railway line between Pill
and Portishead, new services on the Portishead and the construction of new
stations will have environmental impacts. Detailed environmental assessment is
ongoing which includes engagement with the relevant statutory bodies. This work
will be taken forward through the Development Consent Order formal consultation
Working with the Rail Industry
24. The Department for Transport and Network Rail recognise that infrastructure costs
are increasing in the rail industry and along with Great Western Railway, are
working with us to find a resolution to the funding challenges to deliver an
affordable and deliverable outcome. All three organisations acknowledge the
strategic benefits of the scheme and the significant contribution the scheme will
make to increasing the capacity and connectivity of the local rail network. While the
rail industry acknowledges our ambition to deliver the half hourly scheme as a
whole i.e. in one go, their collective advice is the councils should take a staged
approach (reference attached letters).
25. In respect of Option 3, further design work with Network Rail is needed to identify
the options for Stage A and B in more detail and potential for cost reduction. This
will then be reported to the Joint Transport Decision Making Meeting and the Joint
West of England Committee, along with details on timescales, benefit cost ratios,
passenger numbers and revenue support requirements. In addition, the Department
for Transport will be engaged further as the scope of the scheme will also impact on
the next Greater Western rail franchise for the area and their support will be crucial
to taking the project forward. There will also need to be further engagement with
Great Western Railway and other train operators. Consequently the scheme
programme will need to be revised and it is necessary to delay work on GRIP4 and
the Development Consent Order formal consultation (2008 Planning Act section
42/47 consultation) while the above work is conducted.
26. The funding priorities of the rail industry are set out in five year tranches known as
control periods. The current control period (CP5) which is up to March 2019,
includes Network Rails Western Route Modernisation Programme, which is likely to
continue into the following control period (CP6), from 2019 to 2024. Priorities for
investment in the rail network through control periods are set by the Government
through the publication of the High Level Output Specification (HLOS). The HLOS
for CP6 is due to be published by the government in summer 2017.
27. There is a major opportunity to lobby the Government to include the scheme in the
HLOS, given that the rail industry support the scheme and acknowledge the
benefits it will deliver and given that the councils and the WoE Local Enterprise
Partnership have £58M (out-turn) available for the scheme. However in order to
increase the prospect of securing a funding contrition from the rail industry, it may
be necessary for the councils to review whether some additional local funding could
be made available.
28. Great Western Railway have confirmed the cascade of higher quality class 165/6
trains is planned to start entering service on the Severn Beach Line in July 2017,
with more trains to follow across the local network. These trains will start to make a
real difference for local rail passengers, addressing the overcrowding issues as they
have much higher seating capacity, circa 280 seats compared to class 150 trains
with 2 carriages and 140 seats. This is subject to the completion of gauge clearance
works under way across the local network and the completion of the electrification
works to Maidenhead, which triggers the start of the cascade of class 165/6 trains to
the West of England.
That the Board:
1) Note the capital cost range, is above the existing scheme budget, which
primarily arises from the rail engineering elements of the scheme and a
consequential increased scope across the rest of the scheme.
2) Agree that option 3 (to take a staged approach to the delivery of the scheme)
provides the most practical way forward, with the following indicative
i) Progress technical development of Stage A and B, and
ii) Pending the outcome of Stage A & B, investigate Stage C, in due course;
subject to further details on Stages A, B and C including funding profile and
delivery programme, being brought to the next Joint Transport Decision
Making Meeting and the Joint West of England Committee.
3) Agree for further engagement with Network Rail, Department for Transport,
Great Western Railway and other train operators, on the potential sub-options
and scope of the scheme.
Author: Colin Medus, MetroWest Programme SRO, North Somerset Council
Tel: 01934 426498
You will note that Option 3 - do it in phases - is recommended.
I can't quote the letter from NR to the councils (I'm looking at a bitmap of a pdf) but Mark Langham seems to be echoing this sentiment.
However Grayling, in his response to Fox, seems to be saying 'we'd love to help, but I'm afraid it's down to the councils to find the money'...