We used the Borders Railway, from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, completed in 2015, as an example to calculate the possible high cost of reopening a derelict railway, like the Honeybourne Link.

The reason for this was to base our assessment on real life and recent cost levels, not five-year-old estimates derived from what someone could see by just walking along the proposed route (see the next section for an example of rising costs):

  • The Borders Railway is a longer but similar type of railway to the one proposed for Stratford to Honeybourne.
  • Restoration of approximately 30 miles of an old railway, closed decades before.
  • Joined to a further five miles of amended existing track, linking it to Edinburgh Waverly rail station.
  • Existing infrastructure renovated, some new bridges built, sections of double and single track laid, but no digging of new tunnels or excavating new deep trenches in busy urban areas.
  • Like most such projects, it tells a sorry tale of cost inflation: £100m original estimate in 2000; revised to £189m in 2008; increased to £230m in 2011; final estimate in 2015 of £294m from some sources, £350m from others.
  • We have used the lower £294m figure in our calculations, meaning costs increased by 2.94 times over 15 years.

The lessons above applied to the proposed Stratford-upon-Avon to Honeybourne Link

  • £97m – estimated cost from the 2012 Ove Arup GRIP 3 Report for their optimum solution.
  • Assumption – it takes five years from now to find the funding, fight objections, clear planning and environmental laws, conduct the tender process, appoint the contractor and plan the project.
  • Therefore, start in 2022, finish in 2024 = 12 elapsed years from 2012
    Assumption – the inflation factor is directly adjustable from 15 to 12 years: (2.94/15) x 12 = 2.35 times
  • Therefore revised estimated project cost = £97m x 2.35 = £228m

In our opinion, such a high cost is far more than anyone could justify for the Honeybourne Link, if economics are a major factor governing the decision.

RISING COSTS

The costs in the 2012 Ove Arup GRIP 3 Report (funded by supporters of the rail line) are years out of date and will undoubtedly have risen due to inflation and other factors in the interim:

  • For example, it appears that the required width of the rail track along the route (6.5m for a single-track and up to 12m for a two-track railway) challenges some of the assumptions from earlier studies.
  • Additional enabling works will be required to during construction to provide safe means of access for railway maintenance and operations staff, future provision for electrification and the use of mechanized track renewals equipment. See Section 9.1.2 (Clearances) and Section 7.5 (Further Work to be Done) of the above report.