The Public Accounts Committee will examine the Sheffield to Rotherham tram-trains project on Monday 30 October 2017.
Scope of the inquiry
A project to provide the UK’s first transport network that uses both street trams and the national rail network has more than quadrupled in price to £75.1million, according to a National Audit Office investigation.
The Sheffield-Rotherham tram-train scheme was a pilot to test whether public transport that worked on tramlines and national rail lines was possible. Ideally, similar schemes could roll out to other cities. In May 2012 Department for Transport (DfT) authorised £15million to make modifications to the national rail network to accommodate the new scheme. However by November 2014 the cost had increased to £44.9 million, and in June 2016 Network Rail reported that forecast costs had risen by a further £25 million.
The then-Permanent Secretary at DfT recommended the project be stopped but his recommendation was not accepted by the Minister who asked Network Rail to meet the shortfall.
DfT and Network Rail expect the project to cost 401% of its original budget. The NAO report found that whilst DfT have learned lessons from the pilot, it is too early to tell whether it will lead to wider strategic benefits. The Public Accounts Committee will ask officials from DfT and Network Rail why the project went so far over budget, what was being done to ensure appropriate oversight of additional spending, and what long-term strategic lessons have been learned.