Network Rail today publishes ‘Alternative solutions, draft network route utilisation study for consultation’. The document is the result of a wide consultation with industry stakeholders and looks at future, cost-effective options for growth.
The study examines three main areas for development – further use of tram trains, innovative ideas for electrification and further expansion of community rail initiatives.
Paul Plummer, Network Rail’s group strategy director said: “To maintain the mandate to further invest in our railway the industry has to demonstrate a clear commitment to greater efficiency and cost effectiveness. This means being open to alternative solutions and we hope that this new study will prompt fresh thinking and debate.”
The study’s emerging conclusions suggest that the circumstances for tram train conversion of heavy rail infrastructure or services can be found in those cities with existing tramways. In particular, the RUS considers that the circumstances may exist in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, South Yorkshire and Nottingham.
On electrification, the study looks at battery powered trains, with the analysis presented as a guide to suppliers of the potential size of the market and the rail industry’s capability requirements. The cost savings of allowing electrically powered train services ‘coasting’ through extended neutral sections are considered. This innovative approach is planned for the Paisley Canal electrification scheme in order to achieve savings by reducing the need to alter the height of the bridges on the line.
As for community rail partnerships, the study’s draft conclusions state the positive impact of current partnerships and that the rail industry and funders would like more of them, but they cannot be imposed.