Transport features and news
For anyone who may have thought that the Green Agenda had fallen by the wayside, a key decision earlier this month served as a stark reminder for why it shouldn’t be ignored.
Why contractors should use rivers more.
For the first time in five years the highways and transport industry feels positive about the present, with increased confidence in the future.
Contractor Carillion is gearing up to handle work under the Highways Agency’s latest framework which covers professional services and projects worth a total of £5bn
While the UK debates in great detail what it might and mightn’t like about High Speed 2 (HS2), there are grander visions being explored for high speed rail travel on the world stage. And they threaten to undermine the UK’s ambition to lead the development of innovative railway technology.
Business lobby group London First is devoted to making the capital the world’s best place to do business. Chief executive Baroness Jo Valentine explains why infrastructure investment is key to this ambition.
The Connaught Tunnel section of the new Crossrail project has provided an inspirational career opportunity for the young team of Taylor Woodrow engineers leading construction. Antony Oliver reports.
Early supply chain engagement, standardisation, breaking from the codes and consistency of workload emerged as the way to get more innovation into the rail industry at NCE’s latest Boosting Infrastructure Efficiency round table debate. Mark Hansford reports.
Crossrail has overcome many complex challenges and is now about to begin its trickiest phase as contractors prepare to go under the River Thames. Mark Hansford reports.
While debate continues over the benefits of connecting major cities via the proposed High Speed 2 link, northern cities are already on their way to seeing a renaissance in railways as the Northern Hub scheme unfurls.
The Highways Agency claims that scrapping motorway hard shoulders in the name of increased capacity has had no major impact on safety despite reservations from politicians and the police. Jon Masters examines the safety case.
It pays to have schemes ready in case the government wants a quick start project. Portsmouth had a motorway junction in hand from the 1970s. Jackie Whitelaw reports on construction progress.
The view from the top of the 45m high twin towers of the cable stayed Kessock Bridge on the A9 north of Inverness can’t fail to inspire, with the Beauly Firth and ever changing views to the Highlands on all sides. The view of the newly resurfaced deck directly below will be equally inspiring to all long span bridge owners and operators, but it is unlikely to change much for about 30 years, which is the hoped for lifespan of the surfacing that was laid in June.
Last month French dignitaries gathered to see work begin on one of the biggest structures for the 302km Bordeaux-Tours South Europe Atlantic high speed rail line. Mark Hansford was there to meet the project team making it happen.
Construction of a new road is a rare sight across the UK. Environmental concerns, efforts to increase use of public transport as well as cuts in government funding have all significantly reduced the number of new road building projects in recent years.
The A23 widening works between Handcross Hill and Warninglid aim to make the crucial London to Brighton road safer and more efficient by adding an extra lane on both sides of a perilous 3.8km stretch. The challenge that contractor Carillion has faced in bringing this project to life has been how to do this while remaining environmentally sensitive and minimise delays to the traffic and the project.
Canada’s largest road project demonstrates the value building information modelling can offer to highways, a sector that has tended to lag behind others in using the technology.
Great strides are being made across the industry to roll-out the use of building information modelling (BIM) as a means to drive efficiencies and betterdecision making into construction projects.
Rumblings in the press in the past few weeks have ruled in and then ruled out toll funding for a new relief road in South Wales.
Beneath the streets of central London, a massive upgrade programme is underway to relieve congestion at some of the capital’s busiest stations.
The £1bn Victoria Line Upgrade provides passengers with just what they want - greater reliability and increased capacity. But it was no easy task.
London Underground is embarking on a mammoth £4bn upgrade of the oldest part of its network; the sub-surface railway.
Bringing London Underground’s 150 year old network up to speed through a multibillion pound, multiyear investment is nothing short of a “heroic challenge”, according to the man in charge of making it happen.
Major changes are afoot at London Underground with respect to how it can inspire innovation and cost savings from its supply chain.
This week’s cover story features work to reinstate the long-abandoned Borders Railway in Scotland. It highlights the result of decades of campaigning for this vital transport link.
Those who think that too much infrastructure money is spent on rail projects, and that too much of that is spent in London, had better look away now. Because last week London business leaders heard the compelling case for Crossrail 2 - the proposed south west to north east rail route under central London.
Hoardings come down later this year on the final stage in the restructuring of Kings Cross station, creating a new open space for Londoners. Adrian Greeman reports.
Trams are due to start running on the streets of Edinburgh next year, but there is plenty of work to do as the project strives to stay within its revised budget. Declan Lynch reports.
Restoring the long-awaited Borders Rail in southern Scotland promises many challenges for the construction team. Declan Lynch finds out more.
Work being carried out at London Bridge will see the station undergo a dramatic transformation, as Jon Masters reports.
Since the start of the year NCE’s news pages have been filled with accounts of a succession of procurement problems. Mark Hansford learns how box ticking has replaced engineering judgement.
Business is booming in the UK rail sector, but technical skills are no longer enough, as Margo Cole reports.
MTR Corporation has increasingly global ambitions as a train operator having established itself as Hong Kong’s metro and commuter rail operator over the last 40 years. It operates a highly efficient and constantly expanding metro system, with 10 lines now in operation. MTR also built Hong Kong’s high speed Airport Express link, a service it now operates.
One of the most challenging parts of MTR’s major projects programme is taking place at the heart of Hong Kong’s busy financial district, as part of the HK$12.4bn (£1bn) South Island Line (East) project.
Hong Kong’s high speed rail link to China is hurtling towards its 2015 completion date, overcoming unforeseen obstacles and logistical constraints on the way.
A close working relationship between operations teams and construction teams has helped MTR connect its new West Island Line with existing Island Line running tunnels.
Tunnelling and traffic management are the main focuses of work on the Shatin to Central Link.
Extending the live Kwun Tong Line tunnels to for a new section of the line means that MTR project teams will have to work closely with their colleagues in train operations.
When the Highways Agency prepared to activate England’s first ever stretch of hard shoulder running on the 42 in late 2004, it faced a barrage of complaints from concerned motoring organisations and safety groups.
Expanding the tube for a growing city
Construction of the first of two Crossrail tunnels below the Thames got underway last week with the launch of the first of the project’s slurry tunnel boring machines (TBMs). Mark Hansford updates on progress on the £14.5bn project.
Expanding the Tube for a growing city
Extra strength surfacing specified at a Cornish airfield could lead to less use of traditional Marshall Asphalt on military runways. NCE reports.
With High Speed 2 in judicial review, plans for the Thames Tideway Tunnel about to go before the Planning Inspectorate and the very future ownership of Britain’s highway network up for debate, the challenge of uniting short-term public need for economic growth with long-term sustainable infrastructure development has never been greater.
I think it is fair to say that 2012 was an incredible year for London’s road network, says Dana Skelley
Roads were the big winner in chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, with schemes worth £1.5bn winning funding and getting the go-ahead to start construction in the next three years.
For England’s strategic road network 2013 is a year of rapidly increasing capital investment, says Highways Agency boss Graham Dalton
With just over a year remaining of Network Rail’s current budgetary period, the eyes of the industry are starting to focus on what will happen in the next control period, CP5, due to start in 2014.
There is no doubt that 2013 promises to be one of the most significant years yet for the UK’s high speed rail ambitions, says Doug Oakervee
The nation’s air transport industry - and many residents of the southeast of England - will be holding their breath for the next 12 months in anticipation of the Davies Commission’s first report into the UK airport capacity.
Changes are afoot in the way airport owners maintain their critical assets. It means the next 12 months could be a time of opportunity for those able to offer a fully integrated asset management approach.
The design and construction of tunnels and underground infrastructure is now clearly emerging across the globe as the key to sustainable development as nations wrestle with the demand of growing and increasingly urbanised populations.
Birmingham Airport’s new runway extension will allow it to offer direct flights to China and South America, and to achieve that aim the city council is diverting a road. NCE reports
Delivering new infrastructure through urban areas is challenging enough but work on the Brisbane Airport Link meant the new road had to pass under a major rail link - without interrupting services. GE takes a look at the project.
Constructing stations for Copenhagen’s new metro line is leading to some innovative piling solutions, reports Claire Symes
Network Rail has unveiled its new test train that it hopes will revolutionise track inspections and lead to a step change in safety of its workforce. NCE reports
The successful conclusion of a 12-day blockade of the eastern section of London Underground’s Central Line is set to pave the way for future working. NCE reports.
Bridge slide methods and large scale prefabrication have solved tight site constraint challenges on the massive Reading station expansion project, as Adrian Greeman discovers.
Construction of the first 43km of a wildly ambitious 670km long, eight to 10 lane highway connecting Moscow to St Petersburg is well underway. Report from the Russian capital by Mark Hansford.
Gabon’s president Ali Bongo Ondimba has ambitious plans to develop the country’s infrastructure and has drafted in engineering firm Bechtel to help. Katie Coyne reports.
Transport professionals gathered last week to learn lessons from last summer’s London Olympic Games. Antony Oliver spoke to Olympic Delivery Authority director of transport Hugh Sumner.
Dutch engineers are taking advantage of geospatial data to enhance use of Building Information Modelling in creating and communicating a detailed blueprint for the new A4 motorway. NCE reports.
Construction of a third shipping lane through the Panama Canal is underway. It involves contractors and manufacturers across the globe working to exacting concrete and design specifications. CJ Schexnayder reports.
Innovations on Singapore’s Marina Coastal Expressway have enabled faster, safer, more cost-effective construction, while complying with famously tough safety requirements.
Government review must be fearless.
Mining is the new roads sector for UK consultants eyeing up a £200bn global pot of cash.
Gatwick Airport is investing heavily to become the airport of choice for airlines and passengers across the world. Mark Hansford meets the driving forces behind its £1.2bn investment programme.
In the centre of London, Crossrail project teams are engaged in a major programme of compensation grouting.
The efficiency programme at Network Rail is beginning to yield results but the work is also highlighting what is left to be done.
Last month Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev declared the new world-record cable stayed Russky Island bridge a “beautiful, unique” structure as he opened it to traffic. Mark Hansford was in Vladivostok before him to speak to those who have made it happen.
A new Brunel influenced bridge across a secluded valley in Dartmoor National Park is about to help strengthen transport links with France.
Edinburgh’s much maligned tram work appeared to have turned a corner last year. Declan Lynch visits the new team heading the project.
A new facility to help London Underground keep its new fleet of trains on the tracks is close to completion. Paul Thompson reports.
Discovery of an additional crack in a critical section of the Boston Manor viaduct has once again placed the civil engineering and highway maintenance industry under the media spotlight. But while the main focus was initially on how quickly the repairs could be completed, civil engineers and asset owners need to consider the broader issues this has raised – should we be looking for a short-term fix or investing in long-term ...
A surprise spinoff benefit from the surfacing of Avonmouth bridge is less wear and tear on the massive structure below. Ty Byrd reports.
After winning a second term of office last month, London Mayor Boris Johnson has reappointed Isabel Dedring as his deputy for transport. Antony Oliver finds out her vision for the capital’s transport.
There has been fierce competition to win the Highways Agency’s first two Asset Support Contracts. Mark Hansford talks to winner of the latest contract to be awarded about what the experience has been like so far.
Last week’s funding news has wider implications.
With political conviction for High Speed 2 (HS2) faltering behind the scenes at Westminster there is a rise in favour of resurrecting plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport.
Qatar’s rail building plans include an extraordinary 216km long network - 95km of it underground - to be built from scratch between now and 2030, with the first chunk needed even sooner, in time for the country to host the 2022 World Cup. Mark Hansford reports from Doha.
Construction of seabed foundations for a third crossing of the Forth Estuary has just started, close to the iconic road and rail bridges. David Hayward reports.
Tunnels under the Atlantic, High Speed 5 and Apple in charge of the world – all of which are possibilities for the next 40 years as far as civil engineers are concerned.
A £32M roads job wouldn’t normally make many waves, but for Colas and Volker Fitzpatrick their project to move and improve the A45 alongside a £33M lengthening of the runway at Birmingham Airport is highly significant.
The first ever temporary diversion of the M25 is being removed by contractors building its newest service station.
London mayor Boris Johnson is back with a bold vision to speed up London and make it the ‘best city in the world’, says Steve Norris
While the South East airport capacity debate centres on a Heathrow third runway versus Boris Island in the Thames Estuary, Gatwick is coolly making an understated case for the next new runway to head its way.
If there is one market that has survived the global recession and is growing rapidly, it is rail. Politicians and leaders worldwide are realising the importance of rail as a sustainable means of meeting transport demands, making the sector an extremely attractive one for civil engineers.
With competitive dialogue now underway on the Mersey Gateway, shortlisted bidders are embarking on a robust re-examination of the bridge design, which could see aspirations for an iconic cable-stayed structure abandoned in favour of a cheaper, more austere alternative.
Fear of recreating mistakes of the past is the biggest threat to prime minister David Cameron’s bold vision to drag England’s roads into the 21st century, aided by vast slugs of private money.
Motion capture technology is increasingly being used to track building movements close to excavations.
Precast concrete was the key to success for contractor Cleshar as it raced against time to replace a vital piece of rail infrastructure during a 52 hour track possession. NCE reports.
Construction of Bahrain’s largest ever precast concrete flyover called for some heavy duty shoring on site, which was taken on by falsework specialist RMD Kwikform, as NCE reports.
Britain stands ready to embark on new era of light rail through tram-trains, but the age old problem of skyrocketing construction costs threatens to derail the dream before a new tram even leaves the depot.
The £480M upgrade of Tottenham Court Road Underground station is possibly one of the most fiendishly complex schemes ever tackled in the capital. Yet it is on time and on budget. Mark Hansford reports on a pretty impressive construction effort.
As the only station where London’s two biggest transport improvement projects will meet, Farringdon station is unique. To cope with the passenger influx this will create, a major upgrade is nearing completion. Mark Hansford checks out the progress.
Since the Hammersmith Flyover was dramatically closed two months ago, engineers have been busy working out how to enable its reopening to full traffic loading before this summer’s Olympics.
New plans to devolve transport funding decisions to local transport bodies are good for the government’s localism agenda, but they could signal the death of big schemes.
Lightweight concrete helped the project team for the Blackfriars Station redevelopment deliver efficiently and successfully. NCE reports.
In the past fortnight there has been a surge in chatter about the prospects of mega-transport schemes High Speed 2 and the Thames Estuary airport. But still the government faces the question of how to fund these projects while keeping taxpayers happy or, alternatively, how to entice a risk-averse private sector to get on board.
The rail industry in 2012 looks set to reward great partnering with myriad lucrative contracts on offer.
In Luton and Central Bedfordshire a new £89M busway is the latest phase in a public transport revamp.
Crossrail programme director Andy Mitchell is in festive spirit - the project is on the cusp of its most exciting12 months yet.
Express delivery: Brunel’s historic Great Western railway gets a £4.5bn upgrade
While the government’s rail spending remained steady following last year’s Comprehensive Spending Review, Network Rail was already in the midst of a programme of efficiencies. Now the strategy for change being led by Ian Ballentine looks likely to change the face of the organisation for good.
Construction of the £1.5bn London Gateway port is racing ahead and attracting Royal interest. Marissa Lynch visits the Thames Estuary to chart progress.
From next April Network Rail investment projects director Simon Kirby will start to morph his internal infrastructure delivery division into an independent, standalone subsidiary organisation ready to compete for work on the open market. Antony Oliver reports.
As public money dries up for new roads in the UK, the use of private finance has been touted by the government, but this could have huge hidden costs if deals are not managed properly.
Client-contractor collaboration helped ensure early completion of refurbishment work for the northbound Blackwall Tunnel in east London. Jo Stimpson reports.
Love it or loathe it, the M25 was a significant engineering achievement and is now a vital part of the UK’s transport infrastructure. NCE celebrates the road’s 25th birthday. By Margo Cole.
This week’s celebration of the M25 demonstrates the impact that infrastructure can have on a nation to underpin the economy, shape and develop society.
A £50bn proposal this week by consultant Halcrow and architect Foster + Partners for a new Thames Hub is a bold attempt to deliver a much needed integrated infrastructure strategy to the UK. Antony Oliver explains the plan.
Completion of Heathrow Terminal 5 has made it possible to redistribute capacity to enable the remodelling of Terminal 2 to take place. Adrian Greeman reports.
As the party conference season drew to a close last week those looking for consistent — and reassuring — infrastructure policy from the main political players were left wanting.
As construction motors ahead on the huge London Gateway port project, there are questions about whether this world-class port will be served by world-class roads leading to and from it.
This month’s Infrastructure Show has something for everyone, with seminars covering everything from roads and rail, to energy and water.
High Speed 2 (HS2) this week seemed to move a step closer to being a done deal but there remain many unanswered questions.
With intense pressure on highways budgets locally and nationally, NCE has teamed up with Amey to produce a special report looking at the latest innovations in asset management
Products imported from the Netherlands are saving time and boosting safety on a major Welsh highways scheme. NCE reports on Dutch supplier Kijlstra’s dogged battle to become accepted by the British construction industry.
Tar in roads is a legacy from Britain’s industrial past which still, perhaps surprisingly, is demanding careful management today. NCE reports.
Staffordshire County Council has brought a variety of innovative techniques together for a major A-road reconstruction project, as NCE reports.
As civil engineering consultants and contractors keenly await the first annual update of the government’s National Infrastructure Plan, big questions about where the £200bn investment is going to come from remain.
Indecision about the route of the Edinburgh trams might be hilarious if wasn’t so tragic, particularly for local residents who will be paying for the overruns (News last week).
London’s Green Park Station has undergone a major transformation in time for next year’s Olympic Games. Declan Lynch sees a station where improved access has been incorporating into its new design.
The Chiltern Evergreen project is being upgraded with a unique funding deal between Network Rail and its contractor.
The UK needs to develop a new multi-mode transport hub in the south east to become a global economic powerhouse of the 21st century. At least that was the message last week from a group of engineers and architects who have become the latest to join the lobbyists for a new Thames Estuary transport development.
Work is progressing to extend the East London Line to Clapham - including new permanent way along a short but important link in Transport for London’s Overground metro network. Jon Masters reports.
By 2031 there will be 1.3 million more Londoners and 750,000 new jobs in the capital. But getting those Londoners to those jobs will be impossible unless Transport for London (TfL) is able to wrestle control of suburban rail services away from the Department for Transport and its phalanx of train operating companies (TOCs). That at least is the view of TfL, which late last month went public on a very bold plan to take charge of routes currently operated by a bewildering array of 10 TOCs.
Work is almost complete on road improvements in the Birmingham suburb of Selly Oak. The complex project involved passing beneath a railway line and adjacent canal and brought many challenges. Adrian Greeman reports.
Excavation work on Crossrail’s first station - Canary Wharf - is close to completion after just two years. Declan Lynch visited the site to see how work is progressing.
After taking a fresh look at skid-resistance maintenance in Area 10, A-one+ is making carbon and cost savings. As NCE reports, it’s all being done with a recycling technique that has been around for years.
The game is up for PFI — the public seems reconciled to the idea that it has worked primarily as a handy accounting tool to keep costly major projects off the government’s balance sheet. But are the secondary benefits enough to protect its reputation as the best — or only — procurement method in times of economic crisis?
The construction industry is a killer with a “climate of fear” running throughout the supply chain largely to blame. That is the stark conclusion to be drawn from the Office of Rail Regulation’s (ORR’s) latest annual assessment of Network Rail’s performance.
Unlike much of the economy which continues to struggle out of recession, construction in the rail sector is booming.
Despite a catalogue of threats to its survival, a scheme to solve one of Essex’s most notorious congestion problems is still on course.
A major culture change among highway authorities could be the only way to save Britain’s roads from irreversible disrepair. At least that is the latest message to industry from local government spending watchdog Audit Commission.
Building the largest container port in the world is a major challenge for “occasional client” Abu Dhabi Ports Company. Marissa Lynch reports.
Public exhibitions to explain the £32bn High Speed 2 rail network kicked off last week along the controversial Chilterns section of the route. Antony Oliver talks to HS2 chairman Sir Brian Briscoe about how to make the case.
Engineers are building up to a frenetic summer upgrading one of London’s major railway interchanges, as work on the £250M remodelling of Farringdon station hits its peak. Mark Hansford reports.
Last week former London mayor Ken Livingstone used the London Transport Awards to set out the case for not just Crossrail, not just Crossrails 1 and 2, but Crossrails 2 and 3 as well.
London’s continued success as a leading centre for world trade and commerce is critically dependent on free-flowing, frequent and predictable travel.
The project to remove a bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line at Hitchin will be used to test Network Rail’s plan to work more closely with contractors. Richard Johnstone reports.
Network Rail’s new chief executive David Higgins was visiting construction of the company’s new Milton Keynes National Centre last week. How does the development fit into the track operator’s future regionalisation plans? Jackie Whitelaw reports.
Plans to run the London Underground 24 hours a day during the 2012 Olympics are being examined by Transport for London (TfL) bosses.
A new type of rapid hardening concrete promises to ease the pressure on contractors battling to complete time-sensitive jobs. Richard Johnstone reports.