Rail bosses to face grilling over cost hike

The Derry to Coleraine train line was had been due to geta �20m upgrade as part of a wider, three-phase programme of works.
The Derry to Coleraine train line was had been due to geta �20m upgrade as part of a wider, three-phase programme of works.

Translink bosses and government officials are expected to face a grilling in Derry tomorrow over how the cost of upgrading the Derry rail line soared from £20m to £40m.

Stormont’s Committee for Regional Development are expected to arrive in the city this afternoon via train.

As part of a series of events as part of the government Inquiry set up last year into the costings of Phase Two of the railway upgrade, the Committee will be holding an event on the 3.10pm train from Belfast with those who use the train and interested groups. There will be another event for stakeholders at the City Hotel in Derry this evening at 6.30pm.

This will be followed on Wednesday morning by a formal Committee meeting at 10am, also in the City Hotel.

A spokesman for the Committee confirmed to the Journal: “The Committee will receive oral evidence from Translink and Departmental officials. This meeting is open to the public.”

The Committee for Regional Development announced last November that they were commencing the Inquiry after it emerged that the actual cost of the rail project is now likely to be £40m- double the original estimate.

Translink’s original figures were branded as “frankly little more than a guesstimate”, by Transport Minister Danny Kennedy at the time.

The second phase of the railway line involves the creation of a passing loop and new signalling for trains on the 30km stretch of line between Derry and Coleraine .

The project was already delayed by a year, even before the recent review of the project uncovered the cost under-estimate.

The terms of reference for the Assembly Inquiry mean it will focus on ensuring that the procurement process for Phase Two of the railway line is compliant with 12 guiding principles governing the administration of public procurement.

The Inquiry team will assess the effectiveness of the project management process, while examining how the financial planning and cost estimates were reached.

They will further evaluate communication lines in respect of the project and the Department’s own overview of it.

The processes required to ensure that the existing 2014/2015 budget is retained will also come under scrutiny.

Among the stakeholders expected to attend the meetings today and tomorrow are rail lobby group Into the West, which has spearheaded the campaign over the past 14 years to save the once threatened Derry rail line and to secure the three-phase upgrade which was eventually promised by the government.