Friday, March 30, 2007

A Runaway Train

In 2000 the costs of restoring a railway to Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders was estimated at £73m. When MSPs voted to restore it in 2006 the costs quoted were £155m. Now we are told that the costs will be £178M - but don't worry. According to local MSP Jeremy Purvis said "detractors of the rail project had been proved wrong, and maintained: It will be delivered on time and on budget." Apparently the reason for the increase in the last year are due to a, "much more detailed technical assessments. These identified that significantly more work was required on structures such as bridges and tunnels than originally estimated. In addition, costs have increased due to general increases in track, signalling, earthworks and other factors such as environmental mitigation, some land acquisition and design and management. In addition to inflation, there are also new costs such as landfill tax that has now been built into the revised cost estimate.

I'm going to be keeping a close eye on this project. I don't believe they can do it on budget. I'm sure their passenger forecasts are fudged and I'm still doubtful it will happen. Just one final point. The original study done for the Scottish Executive back in 2000 said. The journey time from the Borders to Edinburgh by train might be around 45 minutes compared to 90 minutes by bus or up to 55 minutes by car at peak times. It is planned to be 60 minutes. Were the passenger projections based on the 45 minute time?

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