During the year at Blueprint we have reported several times about massive infrastructure projects that are currently underway and ones that are expected to commence in 2015. Such projects include new rail networks such as HS2, HS3 and Crossrail, in addition to highway projects that have come into higher consideration in the past few months. As we are approaching the end of the year it seems an appropriate time to consider how far these projects have come and what we should expect to see from them in the next year.
HS2, a proposed railway between London, the Midlands, North West England and potentially North East England, has received strong opposition since it was brought into the limelight. The predominant argument is that the rail line would disrupt the vast amounts of countryside that would host the proposed route. No construction has yet begun as environmental and community consultations are still required, most recently to take place was the launch of the Phase Two (Fradley to Crewe) Safeguarding consultation which will run until January 6th 2015. 2015 will not see any sign of construction either but is the target date for Royal Assent of the Bill and if HS2 is passed in parliament then construction will begin in 2017 and is expected to last for almost a decade.
However 2015 will offer much more towards the completion of Crossrail, a £14.8bn rail line project running an east-west route across Greater London, which is currently under construction. Work began back in 2009, and this year it has made several substantial gains and the works are now believed to be 90% complete, with six of Crossrail’s eight giant tunnelling machines having “completed” their work. 2015 will now see Crossrail’s 10,000 workers begin the installation of rails, platforms and stations at 40 different sites, expecting completion in 2018.
A more recent development regarding the UK infrastructure is the government’s announcement to invest over £15bn on a “roads revolution” for England. Whilst this was initially announced back in 2013, it has only this year become publicised on a wider scale and details are coming to light about what changes to our roads we should expect. 84 smaller projects including massive improvements to M25 junctions, 1,300 new miles of extra lanes, much needed repairs to aging A roads and a tunnel on the A303 at Stonehenge are all part of the highways masterplan. Balfour Beatty and Skanska have already been selected for a £55m scheme to upgrade junction 30 of the M25 and this work will begin immediately in 2015, with completion expected by 2017. If the other works are begun as quickly as this, then we can expect roads by the end of 2015 to look significantly different than they do now.
If all these rail and highway projects do continue to plan travelling around the UK over the next few years looks set to change dramatically. Commutes into and around London will be significantly easier, travel around the country by rail will be significantly faster and traveling on roads will be safer and more convenient. In addition to the substantial benefits that will be achieved from this improved infrastructure, these projects will also create thousands of jobs for engineers and the wider work force-something that here at Blueprint we are extremely pleased about.
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