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Growing demand for West Coast Main Line

Department of Transport UK

West Coast Main line, Pendolino trains

Continued growing demand for West Coast Main Line services is creating capacity issues on the fleet of Pendolino trains.

Our role

To reduce crowding on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) services and accommodate demand in the future, the UK’s Department for Transport Rail needed technical help to forecast the costs and benefits of extending the fleet of Pendolino trains from 9 to 11 cars.

Due to the mix of services and destinations operated on the WCML, Steer Davies Gleave faced a unique challenge in terms of optimising the scope of capacity enhancement to maximise value for money.

How we did it

We developed a bespoke modelling and appraisal framework comprising the MOIRA rail demand forecasting tool, combined with a rail crowding model and an integrated economic appraisal spreadsheet.

Each of the six service groups on the WCML was reported individually, enabling the costs and benefits of capacity enhancements for each group to be evaluated individually, as well as in various combinations.

The appraisal period was assumed to be 20 years, to reflect the fact that the existing fleet will be about 10 years old by the time the additional capacity is provided. Capital and operating costs – notably capital lease – needed to reflect this appraisal period.

The financial implications on the Department for Transport budget were also important and an appraisal spreadsheet was developed to provide nominal cash flows through to 2032.

Department for Transport Rail has subsequently gone to the procurement stage to implement the project.

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