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Rail investments have not been adequately managed

​In order to maximise the benefits of major rail investments as regards shorter journey times, more frequent services and better predictability, projects such as the installation of new passing loops and infrastructure for turning and stabling trains must also be considered during the planning process. “Better coordination with these minor projects combined with timetable changes could have enabled rail services to be improved sooner,” says Auditor General Per-Kristian Foss.

Published 6/8/2017 10:00 AM

Document 3:11 (2016–2017) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of the effect of major investments in the rail network on rail services was submitted to the Storting on 8 June.

In recent decades, funding for railway projects has risen from around NOK 1.4 billion to NOK 10 billion per year. Seven major projects with a combined value in excess of NOK 20 billion have been completed, and more are under way. The Office of the Auditor General has investigated the way in which these major investments contribute to shorter journey times, improved predictability and more frequent services.

On routes where investments have been made, rail services have been improved through the introduction of more frequent services. The investigation shows that delays and cancellations are no less frequent on routes where major investments have been carried out than where they have not. Journey times have seen little reduction.

Planning and coordination result in better rail services

On the Asker−Lysaker route, the investment in double tracking has been combined with major timetable changes, alongside the introduction of new trains on the route. Passengers on this route have seen a marked improvement in rail services.

“To maximise the benefits of investments, timetable changes must be well-planned and coordinated with infrastructure improvements,” says Foss. The investigation shows that passengers have seen improvements in rail services only when rail investments are combined with major timetable changes and the introduction of new trains. It has so far taken around 15 years before major changes to the timetable have been implemented.

“To encourage more people to travel by train, it is important that rail investments lead to markedly better rail services as soon as possible,” says Auditor General Foss.
All the investment projects have faced challenges installing signalling systems before the planned completion of the projects. The Office of the Auditor General notes that the work on signalling systems has not been adequately planned, organised and carried out.

When signalling systems and projects such as the installation of passing loops and the provision of infrastructure for turning and stabling trains have not formed a coordinated part of investment projects, resulting in such projects not being completed at the same time on the new routes, there have been knock-on delays in improvements to rail services.

“Follow-up of the scope for ongoing improvements to rail services with the major rail investments has been lamentably poor in our view,” says Foss.

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