This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Queen Adelaide Survey Procurement Support Documentation'.


 
Mr Rupert Moss-Eccardt 
Network Rail  
 
Freedom of Information 
By email: [FOI #378559 email] The Quadrant  
 
Elder Gate 
 
Milton Keynes  
 
MK9 1EN 
 
 
 
01908 782405 
[Network Rail request email]
 
 
11 January 2017 
 
 
 
Dear Mr Moss-Eccardt 
 
Information request  
Reference number: FOI2016/01418 
 
Thank you for your request of 21 December 2016. You requested the following 
information: 
 
‘Cambridgeshire County Council are currently considering closure of level 
crossings on the B1382 in Queen Adelaide. 
 
They refer to a number of documents in their RFQ for the consultants involved.  
These are 
 
• Risk Assessment of Strategic Options for Ely North Junction (Nov 2015)  
• Suitable and Sufficient Risk Assessments  
o Queen Adelaide- Kings Lynn Level Crossing (Nov 2015)  
o Queen Adelaide- Norwich Level Crossing (Nov 2015)  
o Queen Adelaide- Peterborough Level Crossing (Nov 2015)  
• Ely Area Constraints- Draft Briefing Note (Aug 2016) 
 
I requested them from the County Council but they say they can't as they are 
your documents so I am now requesting them from you. My request to the 
County is here: 
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/queen adelaide survey procuremen#
incoming-912898 
 

Network Rail Infrastructure Limited Registered Office: Network Rail, 2nd Floor, One Eversholt Street, London, NW1 2DN Registered in England and Wales No. 2904587 www networkrail.co.uk 
 

 
To save time, if you baldly assert commercial confidentiality I will seek an internal 
review. 
To help with the public interest test, this will significantly affect the lives of several 
residents and reduce property values. At the same time there is the assertion this 
will save lives so there is clearly a great deal of public interest.’ 

 
I have processed your request under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 
(EIR) as the information requested is environmental according to the definition in 
regulation 2 of the EIR (section 39 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) 
exempts environmental information from the FOIA, but requires us to consider it under 
the EIR). 
 
I confirm that we hold the requested information. However, this information is being 
withheld under regulations 12(4)(d) and 12(5)(e) of the EIR and these exceptions are 
explained below. 
 
It may be helpful if I first explain the current situation in relation to the level crossings in 
Queen Adelaide. In summary, as explained in our letter of 27 January 2016 (which you 
described as ‘an exemplary response’) 1, Network Rail is continuing to consider how to 
proceed.  
 
Network Rail operates a process called Governance for Railway Investment Projects 
(GRIP) to manage and control projects which renew or enhance the railway network.  
GRIP divides a project into eight distinct stages. The overall approach is product rather 
than process driven, and within each stage an agreed set of products are delivered: 
 
1. Output definition 
2. Feasibility 
3. Option selection 
4. Single option development 
5. Detailed design 
6. Construction test and commission 
7. Scheme hand back 
8. Project close out  
 
Formal stage gate reviews are held at varying points within the GRIP lifecycle. The 
stage gate review process examines a project at critical stages in its lifecycle to 
provide assurance that it can successfully progress to the next stage. 2 
 
                                                 
1 https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/concerns and solutions for level#outgoing-511211 
 
2 See http://www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/4171.aspx 
 

 

 
The Queen Adelaide level crossings are included in the GRIP 1-3 Option Selection Ely 
Area Capacity Enhancements scheme. At the time of your request, we anticipate that 
the funds to continue developing the scheme will be available in 2017. However, there 
is no funding commitment to an overall scheme in our Control Period 6 (covering the 
period 2019-2024). In the meantime, we we are working with Cambridgeshire County 
Council, who are conducting a review to understand the circumstances from a road 
perspective and whether there are any road-based solutions that could be reached for 
the crossings. Therefore, we are still investigating the various parameters and possible 
options concerning the crossings and have not made a decision on how to proceed. 
 
This is also explained in the Request for Quotation which you mentioned in your 
request: 
 
‘This study will provide the initial thinking around solutions that involve changes 
to the local road network.’ 
3 (emphasis added) 
 
Regulation 12(4)(d) 
 
Regulation 12(4)(d) of the EIRs provides an exception to the duty to make 
environmental information available when the request relates to material which is still 
in the course of completion, unfinished documents or incomplete data. 
 
The regulation provides: 
 
‘12.—(4) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(a), a public authority may refuse to 
disclose information to the extent that—  
 
(d) the request relates to material which is still in the course of completion, to 
unfinished documents or to incomplete data’ 

 
The Information Commissioner’s guidance 4 explains that: 
 
Material which is still in the course of completion 
 
8. The fact that the exception refers to both material in the course of completion 
and unfinished documents implies that these terms are not necessarily 
synonymous. While a particular document may itself be finished, it may be part of 

                                                 
3 https://procontract.due-north.com/FileUploads/ViewAttachment?attachmentId=f146f21b-c778-e611-8114-
000c29c9ba21&entityTypeId=09966d28-8781-4a0a-8952-a57d45f338ff&attachmentTypeId=Advert 
 
 
4 https://ico.org.uk/media/1637/eir material in the course of completion.pdf 
 

 

 
material which is still in the course of completion. An example of this could be 
where a public authority is formulating and developing policy…’ 

 
As explained above, we are currently in the process of formulating and developing its 
approach to the level crossings in Queen Adelaide and the traffic study mentioned in 
your request will help to inform this process. We have not yet selected a single option 
(stage 3 of the GRIP process) or secured funding. The process is likely to continue for 
some time and the requested information forms part of a continuing process and as 
such, is material in the course of completion. 
 
Public Interest Test 
 
The exception can only properly be applied in circumstances where the public interest 
favours withholding the information. In order to determine where the public interest, we 
consider that there there is a general factor in presumption of openness and 
transparency in public authorities’ decision-making processes. There is also legitimate 
public interest in the options for alterations to the level crossings in Queen Adelaide. 
 
However, I consider that these factors are outweighed by the fact that the 
consideration of options for the level crossings is still at an early stage. At the time of 
your request, We have made no decisions on how to proceed and needs ‘safe space’ 
to consider possible options; disclosing the requested information at an early stage of 
the process would harm our ability to discuss the options and decide how to proceed. 
Disclosure of the requested information would also be misleading as no final decision 
has been made on how to proceed. 
 
Regulation 12(5)(e) 
 
The information is also excepted from disclosure under regulation 12(5)(e) of the EIR, 
which provides: 
 
‘12. (5) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(a), a public authority may refuse to 
disclose information to the extent that its disclosure would adversely affect —  
 
[…] 
 
(e) the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information where such 
confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate economic interest’ 

 
The guidance issued by the Information Commissioner on ‘Confidentiality of 
commercial or industrial information’ explains that, for this exception to be engaged, 
the following four-part test must be fulfilled: 
 

 

 
 The information is commercial or industrial in nature. 
 Confidentiality is provided by law. 
 The confidentiality is protecting a legitimate economic interest. 
 The confidentiality would be adversely affected by disclosure.’ 5 
 
I will consider the four elements of the test below. 
 
The information is commercial or industrial in nature. 
 
The information is commercial in nature because the information was created in order 
to consider possible options for alterations of the railway infrastructure. The work was 
informed by advice from external contractors, who carried out work on the basis of a 
commercial agreement with us. 
 
Confidentiality is provided by law 
 
In relation to confidentiality, the Information Commissioner’s guidance explains that: 
 
‘19. …there is no need for public authorities to have obtained the information 
from another. The exception can cover information obtained from a third party, or 
information jointly created or agreed with a third party, or information created by 
the public authority itself.’ 

 
The guidance goes on to explain that the key issues to consider are: 
 
  ‘Does the information have the necessary quality of confidence? Does the 
information have the necessary quality of confidence? This will involve 
confirming that the information is not trivial and is not in the public domain. 
Information may still keep its quality of confidence if it has been shared with a 
limited number of people… 
 

  Was the information shared (or provided to employees) in circumstances 
creating an obligation of confidence?...’ 
 
The requested information is not trivial and, at the time of your request, was not in the 
public domain. The information has been shared by us with Cambridgeshire Council 
on a confidential basis and the Request for Quotation clearly indicates that the 
information will ‘made available to the successful bidder following appointment’. I 
therefore consider that the information retains its quality of confidence. 
                                                 
5 See https://ico.org.uk/media/for-
organisations/documents/1624/eir confidentiality of commercial or industrial information.pdf 
 

 

 
 
The confidentiality is protecting a legitimate economic interest 
 
The Information Commissioner’s guidance explains that: 
 
‘33. Public authorities will…need to consider the sensitivity of the information at 
the date of the request and the nature of any harm that would be caused by 
disclosure. The timing of the request and whether the commercial information is 
still current are likely to be key factors. Broader arguments that the confidentiality 
provision was originally intended to protect legitimate economic interests at the 
time it was imposed will not be sufficient if disclosure would not actually impact 
on those interests at the time of the request.  
 
34. It is not enough that disclosure might cause some harm to an economic 
interest. A public authority needs to establish (on the balance of probabilities – ie 
more probable than not) that disclosure would cause some harm.’ 

 
I have concluded that disclosure of the information would harm the legitimate 
economic interests of Network Rail. This is because future development of options for 
the level crossings is dependent on a commercial agreement being brokered with a 
suitable designer. As disclosure of information under EIR is effectively disclosure to 
the “world at large”, this information could adversely affect a competitive process 
between suppliers bidding for the work. 
 
The confidentiality would be adversely affected by disclosure 
 
The Information Commissioner’s guidance explains that: 
 
The confidentiality would be adversely affected by disclosure 
 
49. Although this is a necessary element of the exception, once the first three 
elements are established the Commissioner considers it is inevitable that this 
element will be satisfied. Disclosure of truly confidential information into the 
public domain would inevitably harm the confidential nature of that information by 
making it publicly available, and would also harm the legitimate economic 
interests that have already been identified.  
 
50. This was confirmed in Bristol City Council v Information Commissioner and 
Portland and Brunswick Squares Association (EA/2010/0012, 24 May 2010). The 
Tribunal stated at paragraph 14 that, given its findings that the information was 
subject to confidentiality provided by law and that the confidentiality was provided 
to protect a legitimate economic interest: “it must follow that disclosure… would 


 

 
adversely affect confidentiality provided by law to protect a legitimate economic 
interest”.’ 

 
I consider that disclosure of the information at this stage would adversely affect the 
confidentiality of the information and harm our legitimate economic interests. 
 
Public interest test 
 
This exception is subject to a public interest test. I consider the factors in favour of 
disclosure are that there is a general presumption in favour of openness and the 
accountability and transparency of public authorities’ decision-making process. In 
addition, there is a general public interest in the Ely North Junction scheme and the 
options being considered by us. 
 
I consider that the greatest public interest lies in protecting our ability and that of third 
parties to discuss and exchange information about commercial proposals in 
confidence, particularly when the proposals are at an early stage. I would also note 
here that while disclosure of the requested information would reveal details of the 
proposals at one particular location, such a disclosure of confidential information would 
have a wider impact on other projects where we share information in similar 
circumstances. This would impair our ability to consider similar options in future and to 
achieve the desired benefits and results from participation in any similar projects. 
 
If you have any enquiries about this response, please contact me in the first instance 
at [Network Rail request email] or on 01908 782405.  Details of your appeal rights are 
below. 
 
Please remember to quote the reference number at the top of this letter in all future 
communications. 
 
Yours sincerely 
 
 
Colin Bendall 
Information Officer 
 
The information supplied to you continues to be protected by copyright.  You are free 
to use it for your own purposes, including for private study and non-commercial 
research, and for any other purpose authorised by an exception in current copyright 
law.  Documents (except photographs) can also be used in the UK without requiring 
permission for the purposes of news reporting.  Any other re-use, for example 
commercial publication, would require the permission of the copyright holder. Please 

 

 
contact me if you wish to re-use the information and need to seek the permission of 
the copyright holder.  
 
Appeal Rights 
If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled and wish to make a 
complaint or request a review of our decision, please write to the FOI Compliance and 
Appeals Manager at Network Rail, Freedom of Information, The Quadrant,  
Elder Gate, Milton Keynes, MK9 1EN, or by email at [email address]. Your 
request must be submitted within 40 working days of receipt of this letter.  
 
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to 
apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.  The Information 
Commissioner can be contacted at: 
 
Information Commissioner's Office 
Wycliffe House 
Water Lane 
Wilmslow 
Cheshire SK9 5AF