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First contract for Network Rail contractor strategy gets go-ahead

Network Rail has received approval for its plans to construct a new flyover which will relieve a capacity bottleneck on the East Coast mainline – the first project to be taken forward in its new contracting structure.

The plan for the Hitchin flyover have been approved by transport secretary Philip Hammond, and it will remove the need for trains travelling from London King’s Cross have to cross three other lines to switch between the East Coast Main Line and the line to Cambridge.

This crossing reduces capacity for other services and makes the railway less reliable when delays occur. The new link will avoid these problems by taking the line to Cambridge over the East Coast Main Line and creating the capacity to run more services to and from the capital every hour when future timetables are developed.

This will be the debut project for Network Rail’s new long term alliances on major projects, where cost savings with contractors will be shared when projects come in under budget.

The alliances could involve more than one partner. They will have responsibility for project delivery and cost, and will have a cap to the amount of pain share.

The deals are designed to drive out inefficiencies, by giving contractors a financial stake in improved performance.

Network Rail route director Richard Lungmuss said: “As passenger numbers continue to rise it’s essential that we maintain investment in our rail network to provide extra capacity and support economic growth. The new rail link at Hitchin will benefit passengers across Cambridgeshire, bringing quicker and more reliable journeys on the line to Cambridge and King’s Lynn and helping reduce delays on the busy East Coast Main Line to Huntingdon and Peterborough.”

Work on the Hitchin rail link is planned to start later this year, with trains able to run on the new line in early 2014.

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