Background to the report

In July 2017 the Secretary of State for Transport announced the cancellation of three electrification projects serving different parts of the UK: the Midland Main Line north of Kettering (to Nottingham and Sheffield); the Great Western Main Line between Cardiff and Swansea; and the Lakes Line between Oxenholme and Windermere. Electrification of the Midland Main Line to Sheffield was a 2015 Manifesto commitment. The Manifesto also stated that work was underway to electrify the railway in South Wales. These three projects are part of wider electrification projects for which works are either ongoing or already complete for large sections of these lines

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After the cancellation announcement the National Audit Office received correspondence about why the projects had been cancelled. The combination of the correspondence, and our interest in electrification projects following our value-for-money report on the Great Western Route Modernisation project, led us to carry out this investigation.

Content and scope of the report

This investigation sets out the decision-making process, leading to the July 2017 announcement. It covers:

  • The original case for electrification
  • Why the Department for Transport chose to cancel projects;
  • How it selected which projects to cancel;
  • The Department’s assessment on the impact that cancelling the projects would have on promised benefits.

The NAO does not seek to evaluate the value for money of the projects or the decision to cancel. It considers the savings to be achieved by cancelling the three electrification projects. It does not look at other cancelled or deferred projects in Network Rail’s enhancement portfolio or at the Department’s proposals for addressing the full funding gap in the 2014—2019 rail investment period.


Publication details

Press release

View press release (29 Mar 2018)

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