In October 2013, Atkins Consultants were appointed to undertake a two-phased study to determine the value and business case of a new rail route from Cambridge to Bedford – known as the Central Section (EWR- CS).
The first phase of the study seeks to identify a number of Conditional Outputs, which set out service delivery options needed to generate significant economic benefits and support future housing and economic growth in areas potentially served by EWR-CS services. The service delivery options have been identified without considering feasibility, deliverability or adoption of specific routes where new infrastructure may be required. Such detail will be explored in the Phase 2 (the development of the business case), which will be drafted in conjunction with Network Rail and the Department for Transport.
The findings of the first phase of the study have been formulated using evidence and published forecasts for population, employment levels and economic development and transport characteristics. This information has been used to identify a list of 64 station locations for which 5km catchments were identified. The locations have been further tested to establish those areas that have the greatest potential to generate service demand and support economic growth. 26 stations have been identified as ‘very high’ or ‘high’ ranking locations which should be the focus of conditional output consideration.
Journeys between all 26 locations were then tested to identify journey time and demand using a transport model (based on a two train per hour service) and economic analysis techniques were utilised to indicate the potential scale of economic benefits services between locations might generate.
Passenger Service Conditional Outputs
The modelling and economic analysis determined that little demand existed on longer journey times (over 60 minutes), where people were more likely to use the car. By way of example, the journey time between Ipswich and the majority of the other 26 locations makes it uncompetitive as a commuter route. Journeys for locations in West Anglia: Luton, Hertfordshire and Bedford, particularly where rail services do not currently exist and journey times tested are potentially much shorter, provide the strongest economic outcomes.
This does not preclude the potential for EWR-CS to provide a passenger service between locations with longer journey times, rather that these longer journey time pairs in themselves are unlikely to generate sufficient demand and economic benefit to drive the case for EWR-CS. However, longer journeys allowing greater opportunity for business to business contact over wider distances are potentially valuable to the overall business case. Delivering an attractive and competitive combination of multiple passenger service opportunities between sizeable business activity and labour market locations is likely to maximise the economic growth potential the EWR-CS scheme can offer. Potential future service scenarios will consist of linking together a specific series of shorter and longer journey pairs, as it is recognised that all of the conditional outputs identified are unlikely to be deliverable by any single route and that choices between conditional outputs will need to be made. It is also important to remember that the linking of journey pairs has the potential to create further journey pairs not identified in the conditional outputs. Hence, longer journey time services may still be realised.
Freight Service Conditional Outputs
The EW-CS has the potential to accommodate freight paths to cater for the forecast increases in intermodal and bulk rail freight. Felixstowe and the Thames Gateway ports on the East Coast are expected to generate a significant increase in intermodal traffic. In addition to offering potential through running from East Anglia to the western side of the UK (south of the West Midlands). It could also provide links to the ECML, MML and WCML. This would facilitate new freight flows plus diversion of some existing traffic flows from London.
Phase 2 of the study will be developed by Network Rail working in close partnership with the Consortium and the Department for Transport to assess the service delivery options further against the costs of deliverability. The outcome of the second phase will inform the development of a business case.
The Conditional Outputs will be used by Network Rail as part of their Long Term Planning Process (LTPP) through the East Midlands route study in order to inform the Initial Industry Plan for 2016 for possible inclusion, subject to funding, within CP6 enhancement delivery plan.
The Conditional Outputs Statement Final Report and Excutive Summary may be dowloaded in pdf format by clicking on the links below.
Page created 18th August 2014