Network Rail needs to get a grip of GRIP
Network Rail’s infrastructure upgrade process has been severely criticised by one of Enfield Borough’s leading planners.
The Meridian Water project is part of the borough’s wider regeneration plan for the Lea Valley area, which involves re-siting and constructing a new Angel Road station – to be renamed Meridian Water – and installing a third track between there and Stratford.
Standing in for Enfield Borough’s programme director Peter George, John Baker told the conference: “When I started working on this project I was shocked by the approach to rail infrastructure projects with costs only identified (by Network Rail) when GRIP stages three or four were reached. This explained a lot of the problems we had. I’m from a civil engineering and construction background where the first thing is to establish what is to be done and how much it will cost.
“With Network Rail it seemed to be the other way round – i.e. do the design work first then only find out the cost twelve months or two years later. That is totally unacceptable.”
GRIP stands for Governance for Rail Investment Projects; an eight-stage process Network Rail uses for assessing infrastructure schemes.
Baker continued: “We need commercial reality from the private sector to speed things up and get greater cost clarity. The contracting structure is not flexible enough and needs to be reviewed. For larger infrastructure projects the GRIP stages are suitable but it doesn’t work in the commercial market. We can’t wait for long periods of rail design. We need to look at other models to deliver infrastructure projects more quickly.”
Baker described the existing Angel Road station as, “trapped under the North Circular Road . . . probably the least accessible station in London”. The new station will be built to the south of the existing one and will be ready by 2018.
It is part of Network Rail’s wider STAR project (Stratford-Tottenham-Angel Road) to increase capacity on WAML (the West Anglia mainline). The third track will run for about five miles; Network Rail is working with the DfT to increase the number of trains to four per hour (tph). Between 2019 and 2024, WAML will be widened to take four tracks and the capacity increased to handle 8tph. If Crossrail 2 is built, capacity will be doubled again to 16tph by 2030.
An exclusive report from Landor’s 16th Rail Stations & Property Summit, London, 18 February, 2016