30 Jul 2010

Inter City Express report published

Expressed in the politest possible terms, the report by Sir Andrew Foster is a damning indictment of the Department for Transport and its working methods.

"The real issue here, I believe, is that there has been insufficient communication between the Department and the industry, including communication about IEP, and this has opened the way for significant negativity to develop. This is a key area for attention and further improvement. This problem, particularly with IEP, appears to have been amplified by DfT’s procurement approach, which has placed heavy emphasis on commercial confidentiality and thus relied on independent advisers and consultants rather than industry expertise. This has engendered a sense of disengagement and disenchantment which I believe could and should largely have been avoided. I also ask a number of questions about arrangements for managing the costs and coherence of independent advice within the Department".

"At the end of the earlier section on value for money I asked why a programme which has passed its technical VfM tests is regarded so negatively. I have suggested that there are three types of reason for this: first there are unresolved technical questions, secondly it is not clear that all the potentially viable alternatives to IEP have been adequately assessed, and thirdly there are some issues around DfT’s management approach and its engagement and communication with the railway industry.

"In short, there is a good deal about the programme as it stands that is unresolved, unproven, uncertain and carries risk."

Review of the Intercity Express Programme by Sir Andrew Foster and Appendix


  1. It's just crazy that the DfT effectively chooses what trains are going to be bought, then a bank buys and leases it to a train operating company. Note the middle man - this isn't financing of the purchase - it's a profit making enterprise.

    It just makes a nonsense of a privately run railway (which I thought was the intention when J. Major's government did away with BR), when the train companies have nearly no choice in the type of trains they run, or how they run them.

    In my opinion there's a veneer of private enterprise in the passenger sector of UK railways today, but effectively it's still a state run business, with financial institutions benefiting from it. Stagecoach et al are just private contractors to the state. Nonsense.

    Nobody in their right mind running a railway would choose IEP - passengers would change at Edinburgh, from electric to diesel, there would be no dual power mode.

    Also interesting is that the preferred bidder Hitachi has never built a high speed diesel train, and were looking to Vossloh Espania or Brush to build the diesel cars - how did they become preferred bidders when there is no evidence they could actually build the thing? Bizarre.

  2. ...(or they would change engines at Edinburgh)..(and the state not dictate exactly how the railway was run - as it did in the IEP specifications)..

  3. Or even split the train and take some of it on to Aberdeen with a locomotive. Exactly what happened on the Waterloo to Weymouth line when it was only electrified as far as Bournemouth.