01/03/2017

Peter James & Partners News 32

TRANSPORT NEWS

The UK has been ranked the 3rd most congested city in Europe with road users spending on average 32 hours in peak congestion every year, which was beaten only by Turkey and Russia. This has been estimated to cost motorists more than £30bn in the 87 UK cities and large urban areas. Unsurpisingly, London was recorded as the UK most congested city while the road analysed was found to be the A406 northbound from Chiswick Roundabout to Hanger Lane in the capital. Here each driver spent 73 hours, or three days, in congestion last year.

Transport data specialist INRIX say that wider use of road user charging is needed and more initiatives such as remote working to tackle the UK’s urban congestion problems. INRIX chief economist Graham Cookson says: “The cost of this congestion is staggering, stripping the economy of billions, impacting businesses and costing consumers dearly. [We must invest] in ‘big data’ to create more effective and intelligent transportation systems.”

 The Mayor of London’s new Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman has been appointed and will start work to improve the streets to make them safer and more appealing to those taking journeys on foot or on a bicycle. According to new research by the Greater London Authority encouraging all Londoners to walk or cycle for 20 minutes each day could save £1.7Bn in NHS treatment costs over 25 years. At present only a third of Londoners achieve the 20 minute walking or cycling goal.

Will Norman previously worked for sportswear manufacturer Nike where he strived to increase levels of physical activity and participation in sport. In his new role he will take forward the Mayor’s new Healthy Streets programme and invest £770M on infrastructure and initiatives to promote cycling until 2022. Mr Norman says: “London has so much potential to be a more active city and I’m looking forward to applying my knowledge and experience to open up cycling to everyone in our city, and give walking the focus it truly deserves.”

 New report calls for bonds to fund Northern transport as it has been found that there is currently a large disparity in funding between Transport for London and Transport for the North. According to think tank IPPR North, Transport for the North should be given the same powers to invest in infrastructure as currently it says that London will spend £1943 per head on transport this financial year compared with £427 in the North.

The group also says that new Northern Infrastructure Bonds could raise vital funds from long term investors, with pension funds helping to pay for schemes such as a High Speed 3 rail link across the Pennines. It also calls on the Chancellor to announce new funding for northern infrastructure in next month’s Budget with a view to leveraging support from the private sector. A spokesman for Transport for the North has responeded to the report and says that 19 constituent authorities of the region have submitted a proposal to the Transport Secretary for TfN to become England’s first Sub-national Transport Body. The Secretary of State is expected to respond soon.

A large tax is being urged for anyone who buys highly polluting diesel vehicles which is aimed at penalising motorists. Thirteen transport groups and charities have signed a letter calling on Philip Hammond to introduce an £800 one off payment on new diesel vehicle purchases in next month’s Budget. The reform could raise around £500 million a year to fund measures to tackle air pollution.

The letter to the Chancellor points out that illegal levels of air pollution are contributing to 40,000 early deaths a year and is thought to cost society more that £27 billion annually. It claims that Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) not only fails to recognise that diesel vehicles are a major source of pollution but incentivises people to buy them over petrol powered vehicles. Diesel cars make up 45% of new car sales compared with just 18% in 2001, the year when former Chancellor Gordon Brown reduced tax on the purchase of new diesel vehicles.

HIGHWAYS & INFRASTRUCTURE NEWS

A second tramline has opened up in Manchester that runs across the city centre from Victoria station south towards Deansgate/Castlefield via stops at Exchange Square and St Peter’s Square. The tramline was built by MPT, a consortium of Volker Rail, Laing O’Rourke and Thales and is a 1.3km extension to the Metrolink network. The city’s tram network now extends for 96km and carries 37M passengers a year.

Manchester’s Metrolink now has 93 stops and extends north towards Bury and Rochdale, south to Altrincham and the city’s airport, west to Eccles and east to Ashton under Lyne. Construction of a further extension to the network is under way through the Trafford Park industrial estate to the Trafford Centre shopping mall.

A new contract has been awarded to Kier Highways as part of new delivery arrangements in the South West. The £40 million contract was awarded by Highways England, which will run for up to 5 years and focus on design, with Kier taking design briefs and turning them into ‘well-defined packages of work’. It is the first of a number of asset delivery contracts in region, which will see the Government-owned company changing its way of working to take direct responsibility for managing both routine maintenance and the delivery of capital renewal and improvement schemes.

Highways England said this will ultimately ensure the smooth functioning of its South West major roads and that this and future contracts will allow it to directly engage with its supply chain, to drive down cost and waste, whilst providing the best possible value for money for taxpayers, and service for its customers.

Hanson Contracting has re-secured its Dorset Highways contract in a deal worth over £100 million. Hanson has now been in partnership with Dorset Highways for 15 years and has been apart of many high profile projects, such as the Olympic transport package in Weymouth, Swanage recycling centre and most recently the A338 Bournemouth spur road upgrade. In total, Hanson has laid over 100 million tonnes of asphalt and will continue to maintain the countys road network.

Andrew Martin, Dorset’s service director for highways and emergency planning, said: “We are delighted to be able to extend our partnership arrangements with Hanson into a third generation contract. We have worked successfully together for the last 15 years to deliver capital maintenance and highway improvement programme across the county.” The agreement, which starts on April 1, 2017, has a potential duration of 10 years.

MIDDLE EAST NEWS

Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority is working on new projects to ease traffic congestion between the emirate and Northern Emirates. The announcement comes after Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed approved the awarding of $269 million (AED1 billion) road expansion programme. It includes a 5.3-kilometre extension to Tripoli road, which connects two major highways – Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road and Emirates Road – and offers an alternative to motorists travelling from Dubai to Sharjah and vice versa.

Many UAE residents working in Dubai live in the Northern Emirates as rentals are almost 30 to 50 percent cheaper. Peak-hour travel time can reach anywhere between 60 to 90 minutes on a daily basis. Director general and chairman of RTA, Mattar Al Tayer said: “The new project will not entirely solve the traffic issue between Dubai and Northern Emirates, but it will ease congestion,” In August 2016, the Sharjah Roads and Transport Authority (SRTA) opened a three-kilometre road adjacent to the Dubai border to ease traffic congestion in Industrial Areas 15 and 17.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said that it would not commence commercial service of driverless flying taxis until it gets a safety certification. Earlier this month, the RTA in collaboration with China’s Ehang Company announced it had carried the first test run of an autonomous aerial vehicle capable of carrying a human and would put it in operation by July, which was reported in PJP News 31.

The driverless flying taxis are part of Dubai government’s 2030 initiative, unveiled in April 2016, which aims to have 25 percent of the emirate’s transport to be autonomous by 2030 and generate economic revenues and savings of up to $5.99 billion (AED22 billion) a year. The RTA is testing the aerial vehicles but will soon set up a budget to buy these autonomous vehicles before starting the service.

Sheikh Mohammed has approved the awarding of a contract that will ease congestion around Dubai International Airport. The contract, worth $136 million (AED500m), will provide a parallel and supporting corridor to the ‘Airport Road Improvement Project’ that the RTA is currently implementing at a cost of $133 million (AED490m). The project will see a widening of Tripoli Road over a 6.5 km stretch from the intersection with the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road (near Mirdif City Centre) up to the Academic City Road.

It also includes the construction of a new 5.3 km road of three lanes in each direction from the intersection of the Academic City up to the Emirates Road, creating a corridor of almost 12 km. As part of the contract, there will be four new interchanges construction, comprising a tunnel and three bridges and reduce waiting times at junctions from three minutes down to under one.

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.