NEW TRAFFIC forecasts for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link are too pessimistic and could allow Bechtel and Railtrack to get out of building the Ebbsfleet to St Pancras section, it emerged this week (see page 3).
Supporters of a single phase CTRL construction programme claimed that the expected rescuers Railtrack and Bechtel are planning for a five year gap between construction phases.
Such a long gap would make it increasingly difficult to get phase two built, they claim.
London & Continental Railways latest forecasts for a phased construction programme show that Waterloo International terminal will not reach full capacity until between 2009 and 2012.
Berkeley Hanover Consulting director Martin Shenfield claimed this assumption was far too pessimistic and could allow Railtrack and Bechtel to justify delaying or even cancelling phase 2 of the project.
Berkeley Hanover has been commissioned by Camden Council to produce a report on the impact of phasing the CTRL on regeneration and employment. The government has given them until Monday to submit it.
If you work to the pessimistic assumptions there could be an argument that construction of the two phases doesnt need to be continuous. Once there is a break it becomes increasingly difficult to show that there is a good case for building the second phase, said Shenfield.
He has had several meetings with Railtrack, LCR and the Treasury. He claims that a more realistic forecast would be for Waterloo to reach capacity between 2006 and 2008. This would preclude a break between construction of the two phases.
But Shenfield claimed that the Department of Environment Transport and the Regions has so far blocked attempts to gain vital information for his cost-benefit analysis.
We are aware that the government did have a major analysis of the regeneration benefits of the CTRL undertaken for it two or three years ago, but that information is not being made available to us, said Shenfield.
Camden is a key member of lobby group Fast Tracks to Europe which has also commissioned economics and planning consultant Colin Buchanan & Partners to calculate net present values for various phased construction options.
Preliminary figures for a six year gap between phases 1 and 2 gave a net present value of 330M 150M less than the NPV of building it in one go.