Negotiations with contractors knock Feniton flood scheme off track

Work on Phase 3 of a flood alleviation scheme at Feniton, which was due to start next month, will not go ahead – because Network Rail is ‘unable to reach agreement with its own contractors’. 

It has told East Devon District Council that negotiations are required with suppliers, meaning the window for scheduled track closures will be missed.

The council says the project requires a 52-hour weekend track closure to facilitate major excavation works to develop a new culvert and install a one-metre drainage pipe under the rail track.

The council said this afternoon: “Because of unacceptable financial compensation risks to the council should these works overrun, Network Rail is managing phase 3 and has tendered the work on East Devon’s behalf.

“Having reviewed the delivery programmes submitted by the suppliers, Network Rail feels there would be an unacceptable risk to the hand back of the operational railway, which is subject to a strict time scale

“Network Rail has advised the council that post tender negotiations with the suppliers are required, which means that the October track closure window will now be missed. This is so that they can secure the necessary assurances and clarification on construction methodologies, road closures and viable track management.

“Network Rail understandably needs to be satisfied that the chosen contractor can undertake the work to a standard that ensures the train timetable is not interrupted after the track closure. The consequences of work overrunning is hugely costly and both Network Rail and East Devon need to mitigate the risk of being fined if works overrun.”

New date for Feniton track closures sought

The council says it is now prioritising finding a new future track closure date for the works and will consider how phase 4 of the scheme can be progressed, so that the entire project can be commissioned when the excavation work is complete.

The design work for Phase 4 was due to be undertaken this winter, with construction taking place in spring 2020.

Councillor Susie Bond, Feniton ward member, said: “It was immensely disappointing that Network Rail has been unable to reach agreement with its own contractors after a whole year of delay on this phase of the flood scheme.

“I urge NR to resolve matters as soon as possible so that phase 3 can be undertaken before April 2020 at the absolute latest.”

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