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Easter rail work will be under scrutiny

Rail works will be taking place across the country this Easter under intense scrutiny as Network Rail fully implements new risk management procedures for the first time since the Rugby resignalling fiasco in 2008.

After the Rugby fiasco, when the West Coast Main Line (WCML) remained closed for a week after work over ran, the rail regulator issued Network Rail with a final order to review its approach to risk management and mitigation.

In particular the regulator castigated Network Rail for failing to properly use the Schedule Quantitative Risk Assessment (SQRA) method for weighing up the likelihood of success of the project. This puts a numeric value on the probability and consequence of risks and opportunities and provides an overall score of project risk through the use of a statistical model.

Network Rail was fined £14M and given until 31 December 2008 to revise its processes fully and ensure SQRAs are properly used. Specifically, projects will now only progress if they are assessed to have a 90% chance or greater of success.

This Easter’s £55M programme of works to replace signalling, renew tracks, upgrade bridges and improve stations is the first wholesale test of the system, and its performance will be independently assessed for compliance with the Office of Rail Regulation’s demands.

This weekend will see over 4,500 rail workers in action. Projects they will be working on include:

  • The Thameslink programme
  • Improvements to the overhead power lines on the Great Eastern route
  • The box jacking of a new underpass beneath the WCML in the West Midlands.

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