PRICES CHARGED by contractors renewing Britain's railways are the second highest in Europe;
18% above the European average, consultants said this week.
Construction economist Franklin & Andrews (F&A) has calculated that only Sweden pays more, at 41% above the European average.
Close behind the UK are Ireland, Denmark and Holland, who all pay 16% above average but have relatively small networks.
France and Germany have comparable networks to the UK but get much better value. They pay only 13% and 10% above the average respectively. Italy pays 1% below the average.
The findings are contained in The Railways Little Black Book, published by F&A this week as a tool to 'provoke' debate at high level.
'It is often argued that it is impossible to benchmark costs because of the lack of comparable data. We have now worked this out, ' said F&A head of transportation Andy Mountain.
The costs have been worked out against a 'typical' renewal project on a high speed line by F&A's cost research unit.
Costs are based on data publicly available across the 24 European Union countries, data made available privately by F&A clients, and on feedback from the firm's own estimators.
The book also reveals wide variations in the costs of carrying out specific tasks.
The consultant found that for a similar 1km stretch of line permanent way works can range from £100,000 to £870,000.
Signalling costs ran between £300,000 to £650,000 while electrification costs were £200,000 to £400,000, civil works were between £60,000 and £280,000 and project management costs between £50,000 and £250,000.