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Cost of UK electrification could be cut by half

Cost of UK electrification could be cut by half

05 April 2019

Better planning of projects, wider adoption of best practice and a long-term commitment to a rolling programme could reduce the cost of overhead line electrification by between 33% and 50%, according to a report published by the UK's Railway Industry Association on March 14. The Electrification Cost Challenge review was commissioned by the supply industry body in response to a recommendation by the House of Commons Transport Committee following its 2018 inquiry into rail infrastructure investment. That followed the government's decision in July 2017 to cancel a number of electrification projects in the light of delays and cost over-runs on the Great Western Electrification Programme and other recent schemes. The Department for Transport has already commissioned its own review from former HS2 Technical Director Prof Andrew McNaughton, to inform its strategy for further electrification in northern England under the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme and to facilitate through running on and off the second phase of HS2. This is understood to have reached very similar conclusions. Noting that the UK has electrified less than 40% of its national rail network, a significantly lower proportion than the European average, the RIA report points out that conventional electrification remains the 'optimal technical solution for an intensively-used railway', despite the introduction of new technologies such as 'bimode, trimode, battery and hydrogen' trains.