Where there’s a will…

Rail (UK) - - Letters -

John Worth ( Open Ac­cess, RAIL 817) and An­drew Foll ( Open

Ac­cess, RAIL 820) both be­moan the time taken these days in pro­cesses such as GRIP, and in get­ting the many agen­cies to sub­ject every pro­posal to re­spec­tive scru­tiny.

How­ever, it is easy to over­look three of the prin­ci­pal rea­sons for rapid results in the early days of rail­ways.

Firstly, scant value was placed on health and safety. Se­condly, rel­e­vant reg­u­la­tion was still prim­i­tive, so fewer bod­ies had to ap­prove any­thing. Thirdly, in­vest­ment ap­praisal was un­der­taken mainly on a fin­ger-inthe-air ba­sis! In­deed, dur­ing the Rail­way Ma­nia pretty much any rail­way project was seen as an in­vest­ment no-brainer, so in­vestors didn’t need ben­e­fit:cost ra­tios to tempt them from their funds.

Let us ac­knowl­edge that we can still do things quickly when enough po­lit­i­cal will is sparked to whip agree­ments through and magic up the money. Emer­gency re­sponse achieve­ments such as the tem­po­rary sta­tion at Work­ing­ton North and the Dawlish Sea Wall re­con­struc­tion demon­strate that well.

But how much more ex­pense and de­lay would they have suf­fered had they been sub­jected to stan­dard pro­ce­dures in­stead, and how would that have im­proved the even­tual out­come? Can any­one eval­u­ate the cost of de­lay? Dare any­one ap­ply ben­e­fit:cost anal­y­sis to bu­reau­cracy it­self? Wil­liam R Lynch, Kes­grave

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