A decision on whether new intercity express trains will be introduced on two busy rail routes will be made in October, it has been announced.
And it is by no means certain that the Intercity Express Programme (IEP), which would provide new 125mph trains for the East Coast and Greater Western lines, will go ahead.
The IEP has been independently reviewed by Sir Andrew Foster whose report today recommends a period of reflection to consider the alternatives to IEP.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said a decision on the future of IEP would be made at the same time as the government’s spending review announcement in October.
The DfT added: “As expenditure on all rail projects will be reassessed as part of the spending review, the government believes that it would be irresponsible to make a decision on IEP in isolation at this time, particularly given the interdependencies between IEP and other major rail investments.
“Over the past four months, the IEP has been independently reviewed by Sir Andrew Foster, and the department is publishing his report today. His report recommends a period of reflection to consider the alternatives to IEP.
“The government therefore proposes to use the period up until the spending review to give further consideration to the alternatives to IEP.”
The preferred bidder for the IEP is Agility Trains, a consortium consisting of Hitachi Rail Europe and John Laing.
It was originally hoped that the new trains could be introduced by 2014. But earlier this year the then transport secretary Lord Adonis suspended the programme and announced Sir Andrew’s review.