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New rail electrification 'will have to stand on its own feet', says Carne

Network Rail

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne has said that future electrification schemes will face much tougher scrutiny before any go-ahead.

Carne, interviewed for the November’s edition of New Civil Engineer, said that electrification in itself is not the answer to a problem and that when considering such schemes they will have to stand on their own feet and have a sound business case if they are to attract funding in the future.

“Electrification will still have a part to play but it is not an end in itself,” he said, citing bi-mode trains as an emerging, alternative solution.

“We’ve got bi-mode trains, so what’s the economic case for electrification?” asked Carne.

“I say to the Department for Transport: ‘don’t tell me you want electrification; tell me how many more trains you want, and how much faster you want them to go, and then we’ll come up with a solution that might be electrification – or it might not’.”

“Spend twice as long upfront on the outcomes and you’ll deliver a better project,” he added. “Great Western [electrification] is a great example of that.”

Asked whether the schemes currently “paused” were in fact dead, Carne said: “I think so. They would need a whole new economic case.”

Carne is preparing Network Rail for the next five year funding cycle starting in 2019, where it is certain that enhancement projects will be taken out of the regulated settlement and will have to be bid for on a case by case basis.

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