As usual a lot has changed since our last major projects update. The Transport and Infrastructure sectors in the UK are all systems go and project statuses are changing on a daily basis.
So how are the major projects taking place up and down the country progressing?
Earlier this week HS2 was finally given the greenlight to proceed following the Oakervee review. As a result, we can expect the main civils works to now proceed quickly.
However, with Boris Johnson drawing “clear line under the mismanagement of the past” and assurances that “HS2 must be delivered more efficiently and cost-effectively” we expect to see some changes to the management of the project.
The first change is that a HS2 minister is to be appointed to oversee the project to improve transparency with regular update reports to parliament.
Alongside this, it has been recommended that several new roles are created in the executive team including; a Project Director, a Chief Operating Officer and a Commercial Director as well as beefing up the Non-Executive board to “draw on the expertise of a group of independent experts”.
The biggest change to the programme right now, will be the separation of Euston Station and Phase 2b of the project. Both these parts will be developed under client organisations separate from HS2.
It is unclear at the moment who will take over responsibility of the Euston Station project, which is already well underway (TfL or Network Rail perhaps?) but the Oakervee review recommended that the project was too complex to be overseen by HS2 if Phase 1 and 2a were to be completed on time.
The latest update on Crossrail was released back in January, which confirmed that Crossrail plans to open the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood in summer in 2021.
Following this, full service across the Elizabeth line route from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east will be in operation by mid-2022.
The fit-out is nearing completion at many stations with all physical works complete in the tunnels, shafts and portals and despite well publicised setbacks, they are confident that Bond Street station will be ready to be opened alongside the others.
These timescales are dependent on completing software development for the signalling and train systems along with safety assurance for the railway so that operational testing can begin in 2020.
Within the organisation, the company are preparing to make the shift from construction to operation.
Amongst the news that HS2 is to go ahead was the strong backing for Northern Powerhouse Rail. However, plans are still vague and non-committal with the Prime Minister supporting a new rail route between Liverpool and Hull via cities like Manchester and Leeds.
Whether this is in addition to the TransPennine route upgrade or not is unclear.
One of the options for accelerating Northern Powerhouse Rail, could include forming a new delivery body as part of a joined up ‘High Speed North’ approach.
East West Rail
The second phase of East West Rail has been approved by government and the preferred route (Oxford to Cambridge via Cambourne) identified. This route has an estimated cost of £3.4bn.
The first phase, upgrading the Oxford to Bicester line has already been delivered.
Bakerloo Line Extension
TfL are considering plans to extend the Bakerloo line to Lewisham via the Old Kent Road and New Cross Gate. They expect to feedback on consultations held in November later this year, and if a decision is made to go ahead with the scheme, they would be looking to build and operate the extension in 2023 with the earliest services running from mid-2030s.
In December, Heathrow faced a minor set back when the CAA rejected its proposal to increase spending from £650m to £2.4bn before it receives planning consent. The CAA instead capped spending at £1.6bn and recommended that their timeline should allow for the Planning Inspectorate to rule on its development consent order (DCO) application.
This means that Heathrow pushed back the completion date from 2026 to either 2028 or 2029 with HAL then submitting its initial business case in January outlining two alternative delivery schedules.
The CAA are due to publish their review in April, following which Heathrow will open an eight-week consultation with the intent to submit the final planning application for a DCO towards the end of 2020.
Late last year Stansted announced that the construction of its new £150M, 39,000m³ arrivals terminal was to be put on hold. Work on the main terminal was due to open at some point this year, but Stansted are now reviewing designs and consulting with airlines in order to “future-proof” the plans.
The new terminal, which comes as part of a £600m plan to increase capacity and facilities, was further rocked when last month Officers at Uttlesford District Council rejected proposals to increase the airport’s passenger cap to 43 million a year.
Ofwat finalised its price review for 2020-2025 in December and confirmed a £51bn investment programme to improve services. The £51bn pot will be available to the 17 major water providers and £13bn, will be reserved for providing resilient services and a better environment.
The £13bn of additional investment will see a new reservoir built in Hampshire and the construction of a pipeline connecting water supplies from North Lincolnshire to Essex, among other projects.
With Ofwat having taken a tough line on AMP 7 final determinations, some water companies are now deciding whether to legally challenge this via the CMA. If they are successful it will lead to an increase in water capex programmes.
Tideway is still on track to be completed on time in 2024 with tunnelling set to be completed by the end of 2022.
This week digging of the west section of the tunnel, passed the 3km mark of the 7km journey from Fulham to Acton.
The 5km drive from Kirtling Street, Battersea to Carnwath Road was completed towards the end of last year.
RIS2 is due to come into effect in April and run until 2025, however there is now uncertainty about whether the strategy can launch on time. Plans to launch a consultation on a new monitoring and enforcement approach regarding Highways England was set to be published last year but was delayed due to the election.
Prior to the delay, Sajid Javid had announced some of the schemes expected to be included in the £25bn investment period. These included; the A66 Trans-Pennine expressway and the A46 Newark bypass conversion to dual carriageway, improvements to the M60 Simister Island interchange in Manchester, widening of the A12 and upgrades to the A428 between Cambridge and Milton Keynes.
Lower Thames Crossing
Highways England has released new images and revised plans for the Lower Thames Crossing as the project begins its next phase of public consultation and has now launched the procurement process for a new delivery partner for the services contract.
Highways England plan to submit a development consent order application later this year, and if approved, predict the project could be completed in 2027 or 2028.
However, much like many other road schemes, there is still a level of uncertainty around how the projects will be funded following the Government’s ban on existing private finance models.
A Highways England spokesperson said earlier this month that, “The Lower Thames Crossing scheme will be procured through a public funding model” however what that public funding model will be, only time will tell.
The future of the Smart Motorways programme is in jeopardy pending the outcome of a new government review into the safety of the scheme. The investigation is underway and until the findings are published all live schemes are on hold.
Depending on the outcome, Highways England may have to consider increasing the amount of refuge areas on smart motorways, or if the programme is ruled dangerous, look at other options to increase capacity on motorways.
Bucking the trend of major project delays, the £1.5bn road improvement scheme is expected to be completed six months ahead of schedule.
Work on the 21-mile (34km) route between Cambridge and Huntingdon began in November 2016 and was due to be finished by the end of 2020. However, Highways England has announced it will be fully open to traffic “this spring”.
Horizon Wylfa Newydd
The ill-fated power station was suspended in 2019 after Hitachi faced issues with funding. The projects future now lies on the government accepting the regulated asset base model (RAB) to fund nuclear new-build projects.
RAB enables private investors to buy stakes and the public then pays for the infrastructure through upfront pricing.
Sizewell C’s future is looking brighter than Wylfa with EDF planning to submit a development consent order this year and construction to begin in 2021. However, as a plan for funding has yet to be secured, it looks as though the scheme also rests on the government’s decision.
Hinkley Point C
Hinkley has been through considerable stop-start in the previous five years but now seems to be progressing well through construction delivery. The current focus is to complete the base of the second reactor this year.
A new report claims that the UK government needs to invest £48bn by 2030 to meet its target of 40 gigawatts of offshore wind power, this equates to 260 new wind turbines each year.
Last September, The Crown Estate announced the launch of it’s Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4 which creates the opportunity for at least 7GW of new projects. If targets are to be met, a significant number more will need to be made available in the coming years.
The Palace of Westminster Restoration Project
The renovation works are scheduled to start in 2025 with the hope Parliament will return to its home in the early 2030s, but it is already anticipated that the repair work is likely to take between five and eight years longer than previously forecast.
Last October Royal Assent on the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill was granted and since then two major appointments have been made.
Mike Brown MVO, Commissioner of TfL, was announced as the Chair of the shadow Sponsor Body, which will oversee the execution of the work, and David Goldstone CBE, COO of the MoD, was appointed Chief Executive of the Delivery Authority, which will execute the work.