Comment on: Council calls for Lower Thames Crossing re-think
Any re-think of the Lower Thames Crossing ought to consider the introduction of a railway within the crossing. This would encourage a modal shift from road to rail which is a more sustainable form of transport. A Lower Thames ail crossing could also allow freight trains from Essex and East Anglia to have easy access to the Channel Tunnel.
The Fehmanbelt crossing currently being built between Germany and Denmark has both road and rail within the new tunnel and sets a good precedent for the sort of joined-up infrastructure planning that ought to happen more within the UK.
A Department for National Infrastructure sounds like a idea worth considering. Such a department would mean that a strategic national infrastructure plan could be established with a clear vision for how the UK's infrastructure should be developed over the next 30 years or more and which identifies the opportunities for joined-up thinking across all infrastructure sectors. Local infrastructure plans could be developed by regional bodies that meet local needs within the framework of a strategic national plan.
Whilst the NIC has carried out a National Infrastructure Assessment, there is no National Infrastructure Plan that shows how the country's strategic infrastructure should be developed over the next 30 years and beyond. Without such a plan new infrastructure projects within the UK will be carried out without any proper joined-up thinking that allows projects from different infrastructure "silos" to work together as an integrated system that works more effectively in providing benefits to UK citizens with a better return on investment.
Regional authorities such as Greater London and Greater Manchester should be allowed to develop detailed plans that fit with the National Infrastructure plan. Regional infrastructure agencies should also be allowed to finance regional projects without having to go cap-in-hand to central government for funding.
Whilst both the Western Rail and Southern Rail access proposals for Heathrow would make a useful contribution to increasing the proportional of passengers accessing Heathrow by rail, the proposed HS4Air line (connecting both Heathrow and Gatwick to the north and west UK by direct high-speed rail services) would complement these lines and allow a step change in the modal percentage who would choose to use rail for airport access.
Comment on: 20 year Midlands rail hub plan launched
The lack of planned connectivity between HS2 Curzon Street and existing West Midlands Network Rail system risks making the new HS2 station too difficult to access from across the West Midlands. This could be overcome by building platforms on the NR rail lines immediately adjacent to the new HS2 platforms at Curzon Street. This is the best way to get a "One station" approach for Birmingham. It would be good to incorporate this thinking into plans before the city is left with a legacy of disconnected stations like that once seen back in Victorian times......