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Adonis kills Frankenstein train

Monday, March 1 2010

Hitachi Europe’s (bidding as Agility Trains) visualisation of the EIP.

On Friday 26 February, Andrew Adonis, the Secretary of State for Transport, placed a written statement in the library of the House of Commons to the effect that he had asked, Sir Andrew Foster, former controller of the Audit Commission to provide an independent assessment of the value for money of the [Intercity Express] Programme and the credibility and the value for money of any alternatives which meet the Programme’s objectives.

The statement notes that since the procurement process started in 2007, the Government and Network Rail have committed to electrify the Great Western Main Line from 2016 and that there has been a reduction in the capacity of the debt market to support the transaction as originally envisaged, and passenger growth has also slowed.

Many railway professionals and industry commentators were critical of the EIP particularly of its controversial ‘bi-mode’ specification and the project was dubbed the ‘Frankenstein train’ by its detractors. Now two years, and several tens of millions of tax payers’ pounds later, Sir Andrew Foster will be talking to the relevant Train Operating Companies, the Office of Rail Regulation, Network Rail, passenger groups and the devolved Scottish and Welsh administrations.

Perhaps some of these stakeholders will tell him that the whole point of railway privatisation was to remove the dead hand of government from running the railways and that the DfT had no business in trying to micromanage the specification of the trains in the first place. Let us hope that the IEP is well and truly dead!

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