Transport and Infrastructure, like so many other sectors, has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions currently in place. But the cogs haven’t stopped turning entirely, and we can see that many of the UKs major projects are doing what they can to stay on track.
There have been a lot of reports on where major projects are up to, so we thought it might be useful to give you an updated report on the UK Major Projects Pipeline all in one place.
Earlier this month, the main civils works contracts were given a notice to proceed into construction despite the current lockdown measures.
Works were suspended in late March in response to the outbreak. However, they are now scheduled to resume; with contractors required to follow Public Health England’s guidance on social distancing at construction sites.
This week plans for the new HS2 station in the centre of Birmingham were approved by the local authority, and HS2 have launched the procurement for two packages of work worth a combined £465m to design, deliver and maintain almost 300 lifts and escalators for HS2’s four new stations.
Less positively, parliamentary hearings for the approval of phase 2a, that will run from Birmingham Curzon Street to Crewe, were delayed due by coronavirus.
But while 2a will most likely remain part of HS2 Ltd, 2b is still undergoing review and its future is uncertain. It is probable that 2b will become part of “HS2 North” comprising of HS2 Phase 2b, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the Midlands Rail Hub projects. However, it is still unclear who will be responsible for this.
Likewise, clarity over the future of Euston Station has yet to be provided. In February it was suggested that the project would be separated from HS2 Ltd and given to another client organisation, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
Work is now progressing again on the Euston site, following a short delay due to Covid-19.
Crossrail took the decision at the end of March to shut down construction sites unless they were essential for operational safety reasons.
This was done to ensure the safety of construction and project teams and to reduce the number of people travelling on the public transport network.
Despite this site shutdown, there is a significant amount of software engineering work for the rail systems that can be done offsite.
Crossrail Chief Executive Mark Wild has said that he doesn’t know how much more delayed the scheme will be because of the covid-19 pandemic.
NPR continues to move at pace through the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The DfT have granted the body £75m for financial year 20/21 and NPR are working towards agreeing a preferred network, agreeing a “Phasing Plan” and delivering their Strategic Outline Case.
They tender’s for two multi £/m packages to support both Engineering and Project Manager Office have been completed and the winning bidders will be announced in the next couple of weeks.
Trackside survey’s are likely to begin this year, which will then drive early design work. Following on from this, NPR are still on track to commence construction on the Eastern Legs in 2024/25.
East West Rail
The second phase of East West Rail has been approved by the government and the preferred route (Oxford to Cambridge via Cambourne) has been identified. This route has an estimated cost of £3.4bn. A series of community events to consult on the route have been put on hold until later in the year.
Alongside this, they have called tenders for the provision of rolling stock for use on future passenger services between Oxford, Milton Keynes, Aylesbury and Bedford. They are seeking bids to supply a fleet of 12 or 14 three-car ‘self-powered’ multiple-units for this section.
In February Heathrow’s expansion plans were stalled when the court of appeal ruled that ministers did not adequately consider the commitments that the government made to tackle the climate crisis in the Paris Agreement.
Heathrow have said that they will appeal this decision and the Government will have to review the Airports National Policy Statement. But with Covid-19 causing passenger numbers to fall to such a low level, pushing for expansion right now isn’t a priority.
As it stands, Heathrow Expansion isn’t going away but it could be a number of years before it is restarted.
Following the decision made in January by Officers at Uttlesford District Council to reject proposals to increase the airport’s passenger cap to 43 million a year, there have been no updates on Stansted’s transformation programme.
We officially moved into AMP 7 on 1st April and water companies are commencing their plans for the next 5-year period to meet the new targets for service delivery and performance.
There are four companies – Anglian, Bristol, Northumbrian and Yorkshire – that are still in the process of appealing their Price Review (PR19) determinations to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The review process will probably run all the way through the year, and if any changes are made to their price limits or performance commitments these will be applied retrospectively. In the meantime, they must operate as if their Final Determination from Ofwat applies.
Meanwhile, Yorkshire Water have awarded Amey a £100m, three-year contract extension to deliver reactive and proactive sewer network maintenance and are calling for bidders for an £800m four-year repair and maintenance framework.
AECOM have secured a place on all three lots of Affinity Water’s new Professional and Technical Services framework.
Additionally, Skanska have signed a five-year asset management contract with Welsh Water, worth £193m, to deliver the water company’s Asset Management Programme.
Tideway have temporarily reduced activities across the Tideway project with only safety-critical and essential work continuing at the present time.
Tideway was on track to be completed on time in 2024 with tunnelling set to be completed by the end of 2022. But this may be affected by the shutdown.
As works near completion on the project, we may begin to see a scaled back or reorganised management structure as required.
RIS2 launched on 1st April, and with £14bn of funding available the new investment period is set to spend £400m on retiring concrete pavement, up to £450m on safety barrier replacement, and £1.5bn is set to be spent on the maintenance and renewal of structures such as viaducts.
The 5-year period will also cover the Lower Thames Crossing and Stonehenge Tunnel projects.
However, it has not been a smooth run of the starting line for RIS2 as environmental campaigners have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £38,000 to take the Department for Transport (DfT) to court and block the second road investment strategy in the wake of the successful challenge against Heathrow Expansion.
Lower Thames Crossing
Public consultations for the project closed at the start of the month, with more than 6,000 sharing their views. Following a review of the responses, 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.
The future of smart motorways was jeopardised earlier this year as the government carried out a review into the safety of the programme. Last month, the government published its report concluding that “Overall, the evidence shows that in most ways, smart motorways are as safe as, or safer than, conventional motorways, but not in every way.”
The report outlines a number of recommendations designed to address these issues and improve public confidence, including:
• Abolishing the “dynamic hard shoulder”.
• Speeding up the deployment of “stopped vehicle detection” technology so stopped vehicles can be detected and the lanes closed more quickly.
• Reducing the distance between places to stop in an emergency and making emergency areas more visible.
• Targeted communications campaigns to further increase awareness and understanding of smart motorways; how they work and how to use them confidently.
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”, but as we are halfway through spring, it is unclear if this remains accurate.
Despite rumours that the Stonehenge Tunnel was to be scrapped, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak made the pledge to ‘get it done’ during the Budget announcements in March.
Highways England have since revealed the three international joint ventures shortlisted to deliver the A303 tunnel near Stonehenge, worth £1.7bn:
• BMJV, comprising Bouygues Travaux Publics SAS and J Murphy & Sons
• HDJV, comprising Hochtief Infrastructure GmbH and Dragados SA
• MORE JV, comprising FCC Construcción SA, Salini Impregilo SPA and BeMo Tunnelling UK
Horizon Wylfa Newydd
A decision on Horizon Nuclear’s application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) for Wylfa Newydd has been pushed back by six months to 30 September due to the coronavirus crisis.
This is the second delay for the decision, the original deadline for which was 23 October last year.
Horizon have also been awaiting a decision from the government on whether the regulated asset base (RAB) model could be used to fund new nuclear projects, following a consultation in Octobe
It has been decided to extend the public consultation of the power stations plans, for a further five weeks amid the current crisis.
Ecological, marine and geological surveys have begun at the Bradwell B site in adherence with UK Government’s social distancing requirements.
EDF Energy have postponed the submission of their DCO application to the Planning Inspectorate, by a “few weeks” due to the coronavirus crisis.
As with Horizon, EDF are also waiting on the government’s decision on the RAB funding model.
Hinkley Point C
Work is continuing on Hinkley Point C, albeit scaled back considerably. EDF have halved the number of workers on site, with around 2000 people being furloughed.
“Critical work on nuclear parts of the project” is set to continue for the time being.
The Crown Estate launched their invitation to Tender (ITT) Stage 1 for Round 4 on 1st April. The leasing opportunity creates the prospect for at least 7GW of new projects.
In light of the current COVID-19 situation, the submission period has been extended.
The UK government have reassured the renewables industry that it won’t postpone next month’s consultation deadline on possible changes to its Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme — or delay timing of next year’s Round 4 auction — despite the difficulties thrown up by the coronavirus pandemic.
In January, work began on Dogger Bank, the UK’s largest offshore wind farm which once completed will have a capacity of 3.6 GW. Delays due to the pandemic have not been reported and the wind farm is due to be completed by 2023.
The Palace of Westminster Restoration Project
At the start of this month The Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Sponsor Body was officially launched as an independent body separate from Parliament. The Sponsor Body will set the scope, budget and timescale for the project and it will oversee a Delivery Authority, which will be established in the coming weeks and will be responsible for procuring contractors and executing the work.
Recruitment is underway for the executive roles in the Delivery Authority.
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.