GRIPping News!

Portway Park&Ride (Illustration c/o Network Rail)

GRIP, the complex process by which Network Rail manages development projects, is being replaced, according to Rail Magazine No 918 (November 2020).

Governance for Railway Investment Projects is an eight-stage exercise that can take years, with each phase happening in sequence.

Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines said

“If GRIP is used properly, it works.  But it is rarely used properly so it is not fit for purpose. We have cultivated a whole generation of people who apply it mechanically.  And that is why it is not fit.  It is costing money and time.  We are replacing it in 2021.”

GRIP replaced by PACE

GRIP, which has been in use for the last 10 years, is being evolved into PACE (Project Acceleration in a Controlled Environment).  

Toby Elliott, Network Rail Head of Communications, said

“PACE is designed to deliver projects more quickly, at lower cost and higher quality. PACE will start to be rolled out from the beginning of next year, but there will be many projects still going through the GRIP steps as it will take time to get the new PACE process right.”

GRIP has been blamed for the slow progress of the local railway schemes that form part of MetroWest (see our lead article in Newsletter 102 – January 2020), but any change in the process will probably be too late to help with this.

In the meantime, two MetroWest elements have been delayed due to Coronavirus:

Portway Park & Ride Station

The original planning application considered that the station would open in early 2020, but this was then pushed back to the end of 2020. 

Now, following some delays due to the pandemic, detailed project design is progressing, with work set to start on site at the end of this year – ahead of completion of construction in the summer of 2021.

The Portway station scheme is fully funded, with the cost of the project – including work that already done – being about £3.5m.   Part of the funding (£1.67m) came from the government’s “New Stations Fund” which was conditional on the station being completed by early 2020, however the deadline has now been extended until March 2021. 

Portishead Line

The project, to re-connect the railway line from Ashton Junction in Bristol to Pill and Portishead, was scheduled for completion by December 2023

However before the work can start, the project has to go through a Development Consent Order (DCO) examination process. North Somerset Council submitted its application for a DCO to the Planning Inspectorate last autumn.  The examination into the DCO, expected to last six months, was due to start at the end of May 2020.   However, the Coronavirus pandemic delayed this examination until October 2020.   This will push the projected opening of this new line to late 2024. 

Work is also being carried out to assess any cost implications incurred to the scheme due to the pandemic; earlier in the year, there were suggestions that the DCO delays could lead to an increased cost of about £5m. 

Portishead Railway Station (Illustration c/o North Somerset Council)
Portishead Railway Station (Illustration c/o North Somerset Council)