Value engineering is an inherent part of the ongoing design and construction of West Rail, according to director Ian Thoms.
By last summer detailed design had progressed to a level where a major value engineering exercise could
be carried out to review design in relation to operating objectives.
This led to the conclusion that a maximum train length of nine cars by 2015 is preferable to the original proposal of 12 cars.
A significant factor was additional technical data from signalling design which concluded that train frequency could be increased.
Thoms says the changes will mean shorter waiting times for passengers because of more frequent trains,and shorter walking distances thanks to more convenient station designs based on the shorter train length.
'We can now pull back from particularly difficult engineering obstacles such as slotting the stations around major utilities and bridges,' he adds.
'All in all, we are very happy with the results of the exercise, but it does mean additional design effort. In some places, this merely involves shortening the stations, but others need a total replanning.'
The construction contracts would have been going out to tender now, with all awarded by the end of the second quarter of this year.
'We are now saying it will be the end of the third quarter but of course commensurately there is a bit less construction,' says Thoms.
Keeping a pre-revenue trial running period in the programme is critical. Thoms intends holding on to the designated six months, so the railway is ready for a smooth opening in December 2003.