Letters to the Editor

Completion of Derry rail relay a priority shared by Translink

JOHN Dallat makes clear the case (November 13) for completion of the Derry rail line track relay and signalling works. This is a priority shared by Translink - we want to see the Derry line fully relayed and modernised. We successfully completed the first phase of the relay on time and on budget and many of thousands more passengers are travelling on the line. It is already a huge success story. 'Phase 2' of the work covers resignalling the line and building a passing loop. Translink was pleased to attend the Committee for Regional Development recently to give some background to the statement by the minister for regional development in relation this work. The minister's statement focused on the difference between an estimate in 2010 for the 'Phase 2' work - £20m - and a recent revised estimate of £40m.

We explained the 2010 estimate was developed using external, independent (signalling design) industry specialists and then what had changed since.

Inflation was obviously a factor but also the scope of the work changed as we have to cater for the additional growth on this line - we need to future-proof the use of six-car trains. This has meant the move of the necessary passing loop to Bellarena (which is a more complex signalling job than the original location at

Eglinton) and longer platforms. Necessary safety work, such as to user-worked crossings, was added to the scope of 'Phase 2' from other work packages.

Lastly, government recommended we add extra contingency into the budget.

John Dallat also refers to the correct decision to stop the procurement for a contractor to complete the 'Phase 2' work in June 2013.

This was because we considered the single tender we received not to represent value for money and to be too open ended. This was a key lesson learned from the Bangor line relay which was the subject of a Public Accounts Committee report several years ago. The Committee for Regional Development heard very clearly that no money has been 'wasted' or overspent on the 'Phase 2' work.

The minister has asked we complete a review of this project and we will do this, using external independent resources. No doubt that for a project of this size and complexity there will be lessons to be learned. Meantime, the target date to substantially complete this project remains unchanged at end 2016 - we will focus on this and look forward to John Dallat's continuing support.

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