We’re not obsessed with BCRs – DfT

We’re not obsessed with BCRs – DfT

The DfT says it is not obsessed with project benefit:cost ratios (BCRs) and has rejected criticism about the quality of strategic cases for transport projects.

The Transport Planning Society recently told the DfT that “whatever qualifications the DfT place on their use, benefit:cost ratios still dominate transport appraisal”. It added that the strategic cases for projects were too often written as an “afterthought tailored to support the scheme being assessed”. But Patricia Hayes, the DfT’s director general for roads, devolution and motoring, told the Local Transport Summit: “It really annoys me and offends me when people think we just rank projects by BCRs – going down the list and drawing a line.” She added: “I have seen lots of very good strategic cases.”

‘Scrap HS2 city centre links and eastern branch’ – peer

HS2 lines to central London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds should all be axed, with the project’s purpose reduced to a capacity relief scheme between Old Oak Common and Crewe, a peer has told MPs.

In a letter to every MP, Lord Berkeley says HS2 cannot be delivered for the existing budget. He suggests reducing the line’s design speed, omitting city centre stations, and scrapping the eastern leg from the West Midlands to Yorkshire.

Addressing concerns that the cuts would thwart city centre regeneration plans, Berkeley says: “Regeneration of our major cities is not linked to HS2.”

Oxford-Cambridge expressway could damage rail scheme, says EEH 

The Government’s plan for an expressway road between Oxford and Cambridge could undermine the benefits of the East West Rail project to connect the two cities, the England’s Economic Heartland of local authorities has warned.

The expressway, which includes an entirely new road between Oxford and Milton Keynes, is expected to open in the early 2030s, about five years after the railway re-opens.

“Are we taking account that a road that we’re going to open in the 2030s will upset the sustainable travel patterns established by East West Rail?” said EEH programme director Martin Tugwell. “Do we need to invest in roads? Yes. But what’s the nature of the roads we need for housing and economic growth?”

Ambitious transport plan for Bristol area

Transport spending in Bristol and the surrounding area would have to more than double over the next 17 years to deliver a new transport plan prepared by the West of England Combined Authority and the area’s four unitary authorities.

It includes four new rail-based “mass transit lines” serving Bristol city centre and a network for Bath.

National Roads Fund allocation criticised

England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) has criticised the Government’s allocation of the National Roads Fund between Highways England’s Strategic Road Network and the local authority road network.

The Fund will be worth £28.8bn over the first five years (2020/21-2024/25), of which £25.3bn is for the HE network, leaving “just” £3.5bn for local authority roads, says the EEH. “Separating the roads funding so clearly reduces the chances of designing the right investment solution in a defined corridor,” it adds.

Tees Valley CA pledges funds for station upgrades

Tees Valley Combined Authority is pledging up to £25m towards a major redevelopment of Darlington station and £22.5m towards improvements at Middlesbrough station.

The Darlington works would include new platforms to eliminate conflicting movements of local trains from Teesside and services on the East Coast Main Line.

Councils ‘too focused on costly rail-based schemes’

Too many local authorities are focusing their attention on major high cost public transport schemes, while overlooking lower cost schemes to help buses, a top DfT official has said.

Patricia Hayes, the DfT’s director general for roads, devolution and motoring, told the Local Transport Summit that she was seeing lots of plans for new light rail schemes and rail re-openings. “I find it a little bit disappointing that there isn’t more enthusiasm for near-term developments,” she said, adding that there were “missed opportunities” for packages of works to help buses.

About the Author

This post was written by Andrew Forster. Andrew Forster edits the fortnightly magazine Local Transport Today, covering transport policy and practice from across the UK. To subscribe to Local Transport Today, click here.

Andrew Forster

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