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NCE Live News Updates Monday 9 December: Cycling tops the agenda again; Amey wins Gloucestershire highways deal

London mayor Boris Johnson is today setting out how he will improve cycle safety in the Capital after questions over commitment to schemes; Amey lands £450M highways deal.

5pm: A construction industry consortium has created a cycle safety standard for heavy goods vehicles.

Contractors are writing to clients asking them to help spread compliance with the broadly backed document. Companies involved in creating the new standard include Carillion, Mace, Lafarge Tarmac and Crossrail.

Mace chief operating officer for major programmes and infrastructure Jason Millett told NCE: “Utopia is that every client starts [encouraging use of the standard] tomorrow. I do not believe we are asking them to do too much.”

The Standard for construction logistics: manging work related road risk sets out 16 requirements across four topics – operations; vehicles; drivers; and clients.

 

4.30pm: The first electric trains are running between Newton Le Willows and Castlefield Junction as the first phase of the £400M North West electrification project entered commissioning.

The huge project will see more than 350km of track upgraded across the North of England by December 2018.

Rail minister Stephen Hammond said: “This is the latest step in delivering an ambitious plan to electrify the national railway infrastructure across the North.

“I am pleased that soon passengers on the Manchester to Glasgow and Edinburgh line will enjoy the benefits electric trains can deliver, including faster journey times and more reliable services.”

 

4pm: The Ministry of Justice will set out in January how the planning court pledged in the National Infrastructure Plan will work.

The Treasury document published last week said: “The government will … establish a specialist planning court with set deadlines to accelerate the handling of cases.”

A spokeswoman for the department told NCE today that the court would be staffed by High Court judges and deputies with planning specialisms.

It will deal with judicial reviews and statutory appeals “on all matters relating to national infrastructure, planning and environmental matters”. Full details will come from the MoJ next month.

 

1pm: London mayor Boris Johnson has set out the delivery timetable for the commitments in his Vision for Cycling during a keynote speech on cycle safety in the capital.

Speaking at the Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety event at City Hall, organised before the recent series of tragic deaths on London’s roads, Johnson reaffirmed his £913M programme to improve infrastructure and safety for cyclists in the capital.

Next week he will publish plans for a Central London Grid – a massive network of fully-segregated main road cycle routes and back-street “Quietway” cycle routes that will make cycling in Zone 1 easier and less intimidating. Many of them will run in parallel with the Tube lines. In addition, he will soon announce the first ‘Quietways’ outside central London, high-quality routes stretching well beyond the centre that will enable long-distance cyclists to avoid main roads. The Cycle Superhighway 2 will be swiftly upgraded.

In the new year, he will name the 33 major junctions in London which are in line for major upgrades to make them safer and less threatening for cyclists. In February, the winners of the ‘Mini-Holland’ competition will be announced – where four outer London boroughs will receive £100M between them for dramatic and transformational pro-cycling change. And, also in February, the Mayor will announce the final shape of the new Superhighways, a huge network of mainly segregated and semi-segregated routes on London’s main roads, completed to higher standards than now.

Joined by London’s transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy, Johnson also welcomed the work and commitment of the capital’s construction industry to embrace a common set of standards to help make London’s roads safer for all road users. The construction industry led standard will ensure that safety considerations no longer end at the construction site boundary but extend to all parts of the construction process. Along with a number of major UK developers, TfL, the GLA and Crossrail and their supply chains have all signed up to the standard and both the Mayor and TfL will be championing the standard as part of their wider work to improve safety for all road users.

TFL also announced today that it will be trialling a new construction lorry with vastly improved driver visibility and safety equipment. The Laing O’Rourke vehicle, which will be used to transport commercial waste away from the Crossrail project, has a cab with larger front and side windows, significantly reducing the blind spot compared to similar vehicles. TfL will also be working with the industry to identify other models of vehicles with similar high-visibility cabs to help the construction industry further adopt them into their fleet and press manufacturers to adopt these designs for vehicles of the future.

 

1pm: Gloucestershire County Council has announced Amey as the preferred bidder for a contract to deliver highways services across the county.

The contract, which will run for five years with possible extensions up to 11 years, will be worth between £130M and £450M. Amey will take responsibility for managing and maintaining Gloucestershire’s highway network – including nearly 10,000 km of roads, as well as providing winter maintenance services and delivering highway improvement schemes.

The contract award comes at the end of a successful year that has seen Amey pick up six major highways contracts with Liverpool City Council, Transport Scotland, the New South Wales state government agency in Australia, the Queensland Government Department in Australia and ASC 6 and ASC 8 with Highway Agency.

There will now be a four month mobilisation period to finalise contractual arrangements so that the new contract can start on the 1 April 2014.

 

Today is cycle safety day in the Capital, with London mayor Boris Johnson facing down his critics at a cycle safety conference. More on that as it happens.

But first, the London Assembly transport committee has challenged Johnson and Transport for London (TfL) to up funding for cycle schemes.

TfL’s new draft business plan, published last week, reveals that the scope of its junction review programme has narrowed and the scheme will now address just 33 “high priority” locations instead of the 100 previously promised.

According to TfL’s new delivery schedule, 25 of the 33 junctions will be completed by 2015/16 and the remaining 8 will be delivered by 2020/21. Last year, TfL committed to completing improvements to 10 junctions by the end of 2012, with a total of 50 junctions being timetabled for improvements by the end of 2013.

Johnson has pledged to spend £100M on the junction review programme up until 2015/16.

However, a unanimously-agreed London Assembly transport committee report called on the mayor to increase funding for cycling infrastructure by allocating 2% of the TfL budget to cycling. This would reflect the proportion of journeys undertaken by bike in the capital (also 2%).

Darren Johnson, Assembly Member said: “Over two years ago the Mayor promised to urgently overhaul 500 of the capital’s most treacherous junctions but what we are now seeing is the Mayor’s ambition shrinking as cycle casualties are rising.

“Setting out a grand vision for cycling is all very well, but at the end of the day the Mayor will be judged on delivery. By downgrading his junction review programme so drastically he will end up delivering less than a third of the junctions he promised by the time he leaves office.

“If a lack of funds is the problem, the Mayor could boost funding to tackle dangerous junctions in his next budget. If a lack of expertise is the issue, he could easily get Dutch cycle engineers to redesign our dangerous black spots.

“TfL can deliver major schemes like Crossrail. It’s time the Mayor gave cycling the same treatment.”

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