Monthly Archives: July 2014


London Mayor Launches Long Term Infrastructure Plan Consultation

The London Mayor has launched a Long Term Infrastructure Plan consultation that proposes Crossrail 2 and extending the Bakerloo line as part of the transport infrastructure enhancements.

London is set to exceed its record level of population within months and risks losing its position among the world’s elite cities unless a major programme of infrastructure investment is put in place to allow the capital to continue to operate efficiently and successfully. That is the verdict of the Mayor who launched a consultation on a 2050 London Infrastructure Plan today (30 July).

The London Infrastructure Plan 2050 is the first attempt to set out the full range of infrastructure requirements for the capital over the next half century, during which time the population of London is forecast to increase by thirty seven per cent to more than 11 million people. The Mayor wants to consult with Londoners, national Government, the wider southeast and beyond on the plan, which he describes as a wakeup call to the stark level of investment and thought that needs to be put into ensuring the capital does not falter.

The plan builds on the Mayor’s campaign for greater fiscal devolution to cities, which has brought together London’s government and the Core Cities Group – representing Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield – to jointly make the case for devolving locally-raised taxes to cities, allowing for investment in much-needed local infrastructure and boosting the whole of the UK’s economy. The Mayor believes that model for investment set out in the plan could also be suitable for all of these cities, and others, providing a blueprint for how they might invest in locally-decided priority infrastructure needs.

Although London currently leads the world in the finance, commercial, cultural, scientific and media sectors the capital is in danger of being overtaken by competitors who are already strengthening their infrastructure. The Mayor argues that a clear economic rationale underpins the need for a long term infrastructure plan, as rising prosperity for all depends on increased productivity, which itself relies on good infrastructure. However, infrastructure can only be delivered, improved and maintained through planned, sustained and targeted investment.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “This plan is a real wake up call to the stark needs that face London over the next half century. Infrastructure underpins everything we do and we all use it every day. Without a long term plan for investment and the political will to implement it this city will falter. Londoners need to know they will get the homes, water, energy, schools, transport, digital connectivity and better quality of life that they expect.”

If London’s population increases as forecast the plan explains how the city will be faced by a series of serious challenges to its infrastructure:

  • Demand for public transport is forecast to increase by 50 per cent with increased demand for Underground and rail services likely to increase by 60 and 80 per cent respectively

 

The Mayor will establish a London Infrastructure Delivery Board composed of senior representatives from all of the main infrastructure providers in London to utilise their expertise. The draft plan sets out detailed descriptions of how the challenges facing London might be met. They include:

  • Plans to improve transportation by maximising and extending Tube services. Crossrail 2 must be approved and further Crossrail projects may be required. Working with Network Rail, there is also huge opportunity to double capacity on the capital’s rail network. A series of new river crossings are needed and an inner orbital road tunnel should be built. A new four runway hub airport should be located in the Thames estuary, to the east of the capital.

 

The London Infrastructure Plan 2050 also discusses how growth might be accommodated in the capital. The plan suggests improving rail links to other urban areas in the southeast but the Mayor rules out building on the green belt as the large amounts of brownfield land within the capital should allow London to accommodate its growth, at least until 2025, within existing boundaries.

The full costs of delivering and maintaining the infrastructure London requires would result in a sharp rise in costs and a public sector funding gap. Arup estimate that the total investment in London’s infrastructure between 2016 and 2050 could amount to £1.3 trillion, although the purpose of consulting on this plan is to help agree priorities and how to reduce costs. Capital costs would rise significantly compared to existing funding levels and the Infrastructure Plan examines a number of ways of plugging the gap.

Fiscal devolution is vital and would give the city greater financial control over its transport, housing and other investments, and provide a base against which to borrow prudently. Public sector land and other assets could also be utilised more intensively, effectively and efficiently. Combined with better integration and procurement, costs could be reduced by up to £100-150 billion. It is also clear that while the public sector must always play a role in delivering infrastructure projects there is also plenty of scope for collaboration on major infrastructure projects with the private sector.

A consultation on the London Infrastructure Plan 2050 will run for three months and the Mayor is expected to publish a final report in early 2015.


MP demands assurances over Halton Curve

Wrexham MP Ian Lucas has pressed for further details with regards to the delivery of the Halton Curve project and the proposed rail services on the line. The curve was one of the big announcements in the Local Growth Fund Round 1 earlier this month. The response is that the proposals are being developed by Network Rail and should be made available early next year. The curve should be delivered during 2016/17.

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Rail Group Rejects Value For Money Report

The Peninsula Rail Group has rejected claims from Network Rail report that the restoration of the railway line between Plymouth and Okehampton is poor value for money. They have advised that the report does not take into account the economic benefits for substantial parts of Devon and Cornwall that would rejoin or have substantially better access to the rail network if the route was reopened.

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The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway – Episode 2

The second episode of The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway aired on Wednesday night

Click here for a link to the programme.

Linda Miller, an engineer more at home building space launch complexes at Cape Canaveral, battles to rebuild a Victorian tunnel under the Royal Docks in London’s east end. Meanwhile a British tunneling dynasty – the Bermingham family – follow in the footsteps of the original father-son team of Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel to build a brand new tunnel under the river Thames


James Cook University Hospital Officially Opened

Minister of State for Transport, Baroness Kramer, has officially opened a new £2.2m Tees Valley rail station that is vital to the area’s transport infrastructure.

Baroness Kramer named the train she arrived on – Captain James Cook, Master Mariner – and unveiled an official opening plaque to mark the development of the James Cook station behind The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, which has been achieved through a partnership involving Tees Valley Unlimited, Northern Rail, Network Rail, Middlesbrough Council and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust,.

Up to 17 Northern Rail trains on the Esk Valley line call at the new stop, which has been established following a successful Local Sustainable Transport Fund bid from the Department for Transport by TVU, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Tees Valley.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “I am very pleased that we have been able to contribute £2million towards the new station at The James Cook University Hospital, which will serving staff, patients and visitors as well as enhancing the wider transport network. Good transport connections act as an engine for economic growth, and link local people to vital services.

David Robinson, TVU Board Member, said:  “The development of this station is important for Tees Valley as it provides an alternative means of access to a large employment site and surrounding developments. It also is helping to ease congestion and parking issues and improve traffic flow along one of the area’s busiest transport corridors.

“This scheme, which is part of a wider package of investment and improvements to rail transport in Tees Valley, demonstrates how partners and stakeholders are working together for the benefit of the area’s residents and organisations.”

The James Cook station investment dovetails in with a £4.5m scheme to boost rail travel that will see 11 other stations –  Allens West, Billingham, Gypsy Lane, Longbeck, Marske, Marton, Nunthorpe, Redcar Central, Redcar East, South Bank and Stockton  – receive improvements to passenger facilities.

Improvements include electronic timetabling, signage upgrades, shelters, improved lighting and seating and the installation of CCTV.

Alex Hynes, Managing Director for Northern Rail comments: “We’re delighted to celebrate the opening of our new station and welcome Baroness Kramer to the region. The development of James Cook station forms a crucial part of a wider scheme to improve rail travel in Tees Valley.

“These enhanced transport connections are important to ensure that residents and visitors to the area can access more facilities throughout the north.”

Councillor Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “The new station is fantastic for the town, the hospital and our communities.

“As well as helping the area realise one of its ambitions to improve rail passenger facilities and enhance the rail network, it supports economic regeneration by improving transport links for workers and accessibility to key sites.”

Jill Moulton, director of service strategy and infrastructure at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This new rail link forms a key part of the Trust’s travel plan, which focuses on establishing alternative ways for staff, visitors and patients to reach the hospital.

“This has involved encouraging more than 300 of our staff to cycle to work and having buses coming into the complex.”

Mark Tarry, area director for Network Rail, said: “We worked hard to build and deliver this new station with the support of our partners and contractor. We delivered it in time for the new timetable and for services to start in May. We hope passengers enjoy the using the new service, which is a great alternative way to travel to the James Cook hospital site.”

The James Cook station is part of a *range of rail infrastructure investments, totalling nearly £10million and managed by TVU during the last four years.

This has been made possible by a combination of finance from the Department for Transport Major Scheme and Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF).

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The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway – Episode 1

The first episode of The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway aired on BBC2 on Wednesday Evening. It should be available on BBC Iplayer shortly.

Click here to watch it

This series follows a team of more than 10,000 engineers and construction workers as they race to build a brand new railway under London – Crossrail – London’s new Underground. Costing fifteen billion pounds, it’s the biggest engineering project in Europe and a huge challenge to pull off. As they burrow the forty-two kilometres of tunnels, engineers must battle to make sure that listed buildings don’t crack, London Underground trains keep running, roads don’t shut and the City stays in business. Crucially, they must drive one of their gigantic 1,000-tonne tunnel boring machines through a tiny gap in the congested underbelly of Tottenham Court Road station without the passengers on the tube platforms below knowing they are there.