Peter James & Partners News 26
After years of deliberation, the government has announced its support for a new runway to be built at Heathrow, which will become the first full-length runway in the south-east of England since the second world war. The government’s decision on its preferred location, which will be consulted on in the new year, underlines its commitment to keeping the UK open for business now and in the future and as a hub for tourism and trade. The decision is a central part of the government’s plan to build a global Britain and an economy that works for everyone.
A new runway at Heathrow will bring economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61 billion. Up to 77,000 additional local jobs are expected to be created over the next 14 years and the airport has committed to create 5,000 new apprenticeships over the same period. Expansion at the airport will better connect the UK to long haul destinations across the globe and to growing world markets including in Asia and South America, bringing a significant boost to trade.
A House of Lords committee has begun an inquiry into driverless cars and their presence on UK roads. The Science and Technology Committee has heard that developers of autonomous vehicles must ensure they consult fully with members of the public to ensure their needs are properly met. During the committee, head of the Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Iain Forbes said that the country has made a great start when it comes to testing and demonstrating self-driving vehicles.
Iain Forbes stated the key to success will be in listening to how the public want this to be taken forward: “People need to be able to see the benefit of the technology for themselves.” He explained that trials in real world environments are therefore crucial to allow people to experience autonomous vehicles and think about how they might integrate into the rest of their lives. He also added that surveys showing public appetite for autonomous vehicles must be taken with ‘a pinch of salt’, as public opinion can vary so widely.
The government has announced a new rail franchise that will combine the current InterCity West Coast services with the development and introduction of High Speed 2 services. The new franchise, named The West Coast Partnership, will be responsible for services on both the West Coast Main Line from 2019 and designing and running the initial high speed services from 2026.
The franchise, which will run for the first 3 to 5 years of operation of HS2, is the first step in attracting a world-class bidding group to develop and enhance the service for West Coast passengers and pave the way for the introduction of HS2 services in the future. HS2, Britain’s new railway, will reduce crowding on the existing network and generate economic growth up and down the country. Phase One, due to open in 2026, will see trains travel at high speed between London and Birmingham before running on from Birmingham on the existing West Coast Main Line, setting new levels of passenger experience along this route.
Improvements to road safety in Britain has suffered a setback as new figures reveal that the number of people killed or seriously injured from the beginning of the year to June has rose to 3%. Department for Transport’s reported road casualties report says 24,620 people were killed or seriously injured over the last 12 months, compared to 23,914 the year before; a change which is described as “statistically significant”. Fatalitties on the roads increased by 2% to 1800, the highest number since 2011, but there are a third fewer deaths than in 2006.
Road safety trainer the TTC Group said the increase in road deaths could be due to more drivers making “fatal mistakes”. Director Alan Prosser said more people should re-read the Highway Code. “Sadly people are making fatal mistakes on the road leading to unnecessary deaths and serious injuries which could be avoided if we all took more care on the roads,” he said. Road Safety Minister Andrew Jones said: “Britain continues to have some of the safest roads in the world but we are determined to do more.”
HIGHWAYS & INFRASTRUCTURE NEWS
Local roads are in need of the Chancellors support, as urgent action is needed to put an end to long term under investment in local road maintenance. Ahead of Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement, The Asphalt Industry Alliance has said that the age of the network, increasing volume and weight of vehicles and the impact of wetter winters threatens the resilience of local roads. The Alliance’s comments came after Transport Minister Andrew Jones admitted that historic under investment had made it difficult for local authorities to carry out preventative, rather than reactive maintenance.
Ten years ago the ALARM survey warned against putting off the investment for local road maintenance, and Local authority highways engineers also said that it would take almost 11 years to get their roads back into a reasonable condition – this year they said the backlog was 14 years. Alliance’s chairman Alan Mackenzie said that: “Unless action is taken we face the real prospect of a local road network that is not fit for purpose.” He pointed out that the Department for Transport plans to invest £6.1Bn in local highway maintenance over the next five years.
Ninety new projects have been set out for London by London TravelWatch, which includes a new construction plan for a cross-river light rail system through central London. The plans being suggested include major infrastructure schemes and small-scale public transport enhancements. It says that a light rail scheme from King’s Cross and Euston in the north towards Waterloo, Elephant & Castle and Peckham in the south would help relieve congestion on one of the most densely trafficked corridors in London, but a similar plan was shelved by former Mayor Boris Johnson in 2008.
Other major schemes put forward include upgrading the Chilterns railway with a new line to Old Oak Common, electrifying the route and introducing a metro service. It is also suggested that new platforms be introduced at West Hampstead station for the Chiltern and Metropolitan lines, to improve connectivity in north London and surrounding counties. London TravelWatch says there is a strong case for a programme of infrastructure improvements to follow on from major projects in the capital such as Crossrail and the Thameslink upgrade.
The modernisation of the Great Western Railway is costing the taxpayer millions of pounds more than expected, as the failed rail plan was described as “a case study of how not to manage a major programme”. A new report from the office highlights that the estimated cost of upgrading the railway has increased by £2.1Bn since 2013 and currently stands at £5.6Bn. Furthermore there are delays to the electrification of the route of at least 18 to 36 months, which are expected to cost the taxpayer up to £330M.
The modernisation of the route has potential to deliver significant benefits to passengers but Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts Meg Hillier said: “The Department for Transport and Network Rail’s failure to integrate crucial elements of the modernisation into one programme from the start has cost passengers and taxpayers’ time and money.” A spokesman for the Department for Transport responded by saying: “We are committed to improving services for passengers on the Great Western line while getting the maximum value for the taxpayer.”
The once famous Victorian railway arch located at Euston station is set to be rebuilt after being demolished in 1961. The 21m tall structure was originally demolished to make way for the current terminus building, but now the Transport Minister John Hayes has pledged to see the arch rise again as part of his crusade against ‘the cult of ugliness’ of much of the built environment, including transport architecture.
Mr Hayes said: “Recently I have seen its stones, pulled from the River Lea, where they were ignobly dumped in 1962. I support the Euston Arch Trust’s great ambition to see those stones stand in Euston once again as part of the rebuilt arch. What a statement it will be of the revolt against the cult of ugliness.” The plans to rebuild the arch will be taken forward in the coming weeks. Rebuilding the Euston arch will mean that Victorian stone entrances welcome passengers at either end of the proposed High Speed 2 line. A similar structure still stands at Curzon Street in Birmingham.
MIDDLE EAST NEWS
Driverless cars have begun test runs in Dubai’s Business Bay, as The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Dubai Properties have started testing cars capable of carrying 10 persons. The move follows the success of the first and second phases of the trial operation of smart vehicles in the Dubai World Trade Centre and the Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard. Satisfaction rating clocked 95 percent for autonomous vehicles tested at the Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard from September 1 to October 5 this year, whilst the test run in Dubai World Trade Centre during Ramadan 2015 also had yielded satisfaction rating of 92 percent, RTA said.
Dubai Properties said it was keen on utilising the advanced technologies and innovations under the smart mobility and autonomous vehicles initiative charted out by the government. It is offering autonomous vehicle experience to visitors and residents of Bay Avenue as well.
The futuristic high-speed transport system Hyperloop One aims to raise hundreds of millions of dollars of fresh capital next year after a first full-scale test that could secure firm orders from clients, its founders said. Hyperloop One uses magnets to levitate pods inside huge airless tubes at speeds up to 750 mph (1,100 kmh) to transport people and cargo. The founders said they have also now signed agreements on feasibility studies with the Dutch and Finnish governments.
Earlier this week, the company said it agreed to jointly evaluate a Hyperloop One transport system in Dubai. Early next year the company will carry out its first full-scale test of the system at a facility in Nevada, which could demonstrate the system’s viability. So far the company has raised $160 million to finance its growth, including $50 million last month in a financing round led by Dubai port operator DP World.
Sources : Local Transport Today, Transport Xtra, Jobs in Transport, Department for Transport, RAC Foundation, Highways England, Chartered Institute of Highways & Transportation, Institution of Structural Engineers, LinkedIn, Transport Planning Society, ArabianBusiness.com, Gulf News, The Telegraph.