Assessing a major infrastructure project
A Railtrack case study

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Page 5: Market-driven investment options

The study team packaged the best of the upgrade investments for Railtrack and its partners into eight Market-Driven investment options, each of which was carefully considered. These key options would lead to improvements in ride comfort, capacity and journey times and to improved freight services. They included:

  1. Accelerated track renewals programme
  2. Power supplies for extra trains at 175 km/h
  3. 200 km/h linespeed for conventional trains
  4. 225 km/h linespeed for tilting trains
  5. 250 km/h linespeed for tilting trains
  6. Initial piggyback gauge clearance works
  7. Gauge clearance works for double-deck passenger trains
  8. Longer freight trains.

Railtrack 4 Image 2Each option was appraised to see how it might be funded and how it would meet passenger and freight operators' needs as well as the requirements of the Franchise Director. By identifying and appraising these options, Railtrack had set in motion a process which looked at the long-term future and success of the West Coast Main Line.

All aspects of an organisation's operations have a wider impact. For any feasibility study, it is necessary to carry out environmental assessments and analyse community benefits. The study identified areas with a significant increase in population levels as well as trends towards migration to shire areas and the effects upon existing transportation links. It was recognised that a reliable and faster rail service would encourage transfer from roads to rail.

The study also identified that the major cities would benefit from inward investment and employment generation through improved InterCity services. The project would also complement changes in distribution created by the effect of the Channel Tunnel which could lead to a multiplier employment effect. The West Coast Main Line project would also support local authority schemes to encourage a shift away from road transport towards public transport through light rail system and local rail service improvements. The scheme could also benefit other projects under construction, such as the Crewe- Holyhead electrification.

A project as large as the West Coast Main Line modernisation would affect employment - the workforce directly involved in construction and employment related to materials, components and services bought in. Overall, the West Coast Main Line project would be expected to have an economic generation effect through improvement in business confidence, local publicity and general well-being caused by the creation of a major transport infrastructure investment.

The study identified a number of unique heritage features associated with the West Coast Main Line which reflect its size and antiquity. The study also identified sites for nature conservation and sites of special scientific interest. As the Core Investment would require little or no further land, no long-term environmental impacts were predicted. In fact, the study showed that the removal of line-side equipment would bring many environmental benefits.

Railtrack’s stakeholders

Railtrack 3 Diagram 1Organisations have a prime responsibility to serve their stakeholders. These are individuals and groups who are affected by the consequences of an organisation's activities. There are many stakeholders who can contribute to or benefit from the success of the West Coast Main Line programme. Although some of these are Railtrack’s direct customers, such as train and freight operating companies, other stakeholders include the Franchising Director, the Rail Regulator, Passenger Transport Executives, the Rail Users’ Consultative Committees, the Health and Safety Executive, plus manufacturers and infrastructure service providers. It was shown that passengers and freight users would enjoy:

  • an improved, more reliable service on the West Coast Main Line
  • a competitive alternative to other forms of transport.

A recommendation of the study was the implementation of the Core Investment Programme. The study showed that this programme would:

  • save on maintenance, renewals and production costs
  • improve the reliability and punctuality of services leading to revenue
  • provide user and non-user benefits
  • improve train operations.

Railtrack proposes to undertake the development of the train control system through a separate development contract which would be compatible with the Government's Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The upgrading work will require a contract strategy which reflects the changing environment resulting from privatisation. As Railtrack moves towards implementing its strategies, it has to consider access and provision of finance. Railtrack also has to ensure that stakeholders are kept informed about developments. Other options depend on the requirements of the market and the willingness of passenger and freight operators to enter into partnership in order to make market-led proposals work.

Railtrack | Assessing a major infrastructure project