Northern Powerhouse Rail bosses slash £9bn off project’s cost - International Burch University
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Northern Powerhouse Rail bosses slash £9bn off project’s cost

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The final estimated cost of Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) could be slashed by as much as £9bn, following a “rigorous cost challenges” exercise carried out by Transport for the North (TfN).

The project to connect major cities in the North of England has previously been estimated at £39bn.

However, agenda papers released ahead of TfN’s latest board meeting reveal that savings up to £9bn have been identified.

A £4bn cost reduction has been identified in relation to land and property acquisitions, with a further £5bn potential saving relating to design costs.

A developed final estimated cost for the project will be included in TfN’s strategic outline business case which will be drawn up following the publication of the government’s long-awaited Integrated Rail Plan.

The papers add: “Rigorous cost challenges led by TfN have been successful in identifying where costs can be reduced, including securing a £4bn cost reduction on initial assured costs by challenging the pricing methodology and land and property requirements, thereby ensuring that unnecessary costs are not imported into the scheme.

“Robust benchmarking and challenge on design and the methodology for calculating possessions and isolations has identified potential for a further £5bn reduction in costs.”

The NPR network will integrate with High Speed 2 and connects key cities including Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull.

TfN was gearing up to submit its final business plan for the line earlier this year, however agreed to delay it until the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan which will outline rail priorities for the country.

The Integrated Rail Plan – initially due to be published “early” this year – has itself been delayed.

TfN bosses have previously warned that a long delay to the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan will have a negative impact on the NPR project.

The board meeting agenda papers add: “The North’s leaders have called on the Government to urgently publish the IRP, to give essential certainty on investment and delivery of major projects including NPR.

“By summer, the potential gains in the programme to be made by rephasing the SOC [strategic outline case] will be outstripped by the continued delays to the IRP, delaying the step-change in connectivity, delivering transformational, clean, economic growth across the North of England brought about by NPR.”

The papers add that work on the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme “has continued at pace in a number of areas to ensure that the delay in the IRP does not unnecessarily impede progress”.

The papers add that as “the scope, phasing and delivery sequencing of NPR network is dependent on the outcomes of the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) […] the team is therefore preparing for various IRP outcomes, and planning for the review and response to the IRP.”

The proposed NPR network includes:

  • A new line to be constructed from Liverpool to Manchester via the centre of Warrington
  • A new line to be constructed from Manchester to Leeds via the centre of Bradford
  • Significant upgrades and journey time improvements to the Hope Valley route between Manchester and Sheffield
  • Connecting Sheffield to HS2 and on to Leeds
  • Significant upgrades and electrification of the rail lines from Leeds and Sheffield to Hull
  • Significant upgrades of the East Coast Mainline from Leeds to Newcastle (via York and Darlington) and restoration of the Leamside line


Department of Civil Engineering