FRENETIC RECRUITMENT of contract managers and railway planners at the Department for Transport suggests that the long awaited vision for Britain's railway may be about to arrive.
It is now 15 months since transport secretary Alistair Darling announced a shake up of the rail industry in his White Paper, The Future of Rail.
Darling set out to disband the Strategic Rail Authority, bringing responsibility for strategy and long term planning directly under his control.
Although no long-term strategy has yet emerged, a look at the DfT's website reveals that it is now recruiting hard, suggesting it may soon have a strategy and some projects to go with it.
These might include a revival of plans for a new north-south high speed line and - should the public inquiry have a favourable result - a fi rm funding commitment for Thameslink 2000.
Are such hopes pie in the sky- Graham Dalton, director of rail projects at the DfT, is a man well placed to provide the answers, and he will be giving the keynote address in the afternoon session of the Transport & Infrastructure Day at Civils 2005.
Whatever the strategy reveals, one certainty is that Network Rail will spend £20.5bn over the remaining four years of the current five year control period.
Consultants and contractors argue that this money is taking longer than expected to spend.
Network Rail has been bullish in defending its reticence to date - it underspent by £500M last year, deferring work on projects it believed were not ready.
Network Rail director of major projects and investments Simon Kirby will explain Network Rail's approach to increasing effi encies and set out how its budget will be spent over the next four years.
www. civilsconference. com/2005