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Network Rail and Moorside nuclear power plant developer Nugen are putting together a business case for rail investment in Cumbria that could be worth as much as £400m.
Network Rail route managing director Martin Frobisher said the body had “identified £400m of rail infrastructure that’s needed to support Moorside” both during the construction phase and once the proposed nuclear power station was built.
Speaking at the Northern Powerhouse Conference in Manchester last week, Mr Frobisher said he believed the privately funded nature of the nuclear project meant securing ministerial support for the plant and additional works would be “fairly easy” if a strike price for the power generated could be agreed.
Nugen has identified the need for heavy infrastructure investment to support the Moorside project, with earmarked schemes including a marine off-loading facility, a bridge across the River Ehen floodplain, and new rail spurs and facilities.
Rail projects could include a 285 m extension to the existing St Bees Loop to ensure NuGen charter trains can stop to allow other services to pass.
Nugen also plans to invest in a 3.2 km section of track to be laid alongside the existing line between Corkickle and Mirehouse.
This would include major construction works at two stations, dedicated Moorside worker rail platforms at Corkickle and Mirehouse, as well as a public platform at Mirehouse.
The rail investment programme also potentially includes enhancements to existing stations on the Barrow-to-Carlisle line, including Whitehaven, Workington and Millom.
Nugen has previously said it would be keen to develop rail freight access at Moorside “at the earliest possible opportunity”.
It is understood that the business case will flesh out exact details of what infrastructure is required as well as setting out a funding plan.
A Nugen spokesman said: “Nugen is working with Network Rail to identify a rail solution that will deliver our requirements for constructing and operating Moorside.”
Network Rail said the plans were still “at an early stage”.
“Network Rail is working with a number of key industries on the West Cumbrian coast to explore additional freight and passenger opportunities,” a spokesperson said.
“This includes Sellafield, NuGen Moorside, National Grid, West Cumbrian Mining, West Cumbria Water Pipeline Project (United Utilities) and Low Level Waste Repository.
“We are looking at how work to achieve the aspirations of all parties rather than delivering standalone schemes.”
Earlier this month, Toshiba, which owns 60 per cent of Nugen, ruled out playing any part in the construction of the £10bn Moorside project.
The firm, which posted a huge loss of £2.7bn earlier this month, said that while it would continue to be involved in the development of the Cumbrian plant, it would not be willing to take on any construction risk.
This article first appeared on www.constructionnews.co.uk
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