Network Rail in their response to Central Bedfordshire Council’s Development Strategy consultation in March 2014 say the Council ‘need to enter into an agreement with Network Rail as regards the design and delivery of a new bridge over the Midland main line as part of the provision of the strategic (M1 A6) link road’. A road bridge across the Midland mainline at Chalton is a key determinant of the successful implementation of CBC’s currently stalled development strategy. Without a road bridge located at the new M1 Junction 11a the road can not link to the M1 to the A6 North of Luton.
Network Rail are currently consulting stakeholders on its Enhancements Delivery Plan which contains their proposed development projects for the planning control period CP5 that ends in 2020. The Enhancements Delivery Plan is a ‘contract’ between Network Rail and the Government. It is used to monitor the quality of Network Rail’s delivery of the projects in the plan. Also an estimate of these projects costs signals to the Treasury how much the plan will cost. Once the Enhancements Delivery Plan is agreed it is unlikely to be changed unless the Government allocates more funding. It is crucial that projects such as bridging the Midland mainline at M1 Junction 11a are featured in the Network Rail’s control plan CP5 otherwise they will not start until at least 2020.
The delay in the delivery of the planned Midland mainline station at the Wixams housing development is directly attributable to the failure of its sponsors and local authority planners to get the project into the CP4 Enhancements Delivery Plan ending in 2014. More worrying for the current residents of Wixams and new residents who will move into Central Bedfordshire Council’s planned Wixams extension is the fact the planned railway station at Wixams is not part of Network Rail’s CP5 Enhancements Delivery Plan. It looks like current Wixams residents will not get the railway station they were promised when the first residents moved there in 2008 until sometime after 2020!
The bridge across the Midland mainline at Chalton which is part of the planned M1 A6 link road North of Luton has not yet emerged from Network Rail’s project screening activities. These activities are set out in its Guide to Rail Investment Process (GRIP). The significance of this is the bridge project will probably not be implemented until after 2020 as it has not been included in Network Rail’s CP5 Enhancements Delivery Plan. If the road bridge suffers the same implementation problems as the Wixams Railway station then the economic sustainability of CBC’s Development Strategy is in jeopardy.