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ICE calls for better transport investment planning

The Government's announcement of £400M to transform New Street station into a rail gateway befitting Britain's second largest city, has been welcomed by the West Midlands ICE.

The ICE added it was hopeful such major decisions could be speeded up in future.

The New Street transformation is expected to create new jobs in the civil engineering sector and provide a boost to the transport infrastructure of the West Midlands.

However a more co-ordinated approach to infrastructure planning would enable investment to take place sooner, and avoid the drawn-out process New Street has undergone.

An ICE report on capacity and skills highlighted how uncoordinated planning of infrastructure projects discourages industry investment.

The report called for an independent commission to take a strategic overview of all major infrastructure projects and to coordinate their delivery.

ICE West Midlands Chairman Len Threadgold said: "Perhaps if we had such a body in place, construction would already be underway at New Street, and it would allow other crucial transport projects, such as Midland Metro extensions and motorway improvements, to get started with minimal delay.

"Now we have reached this important milestone it is essential that everyone works together to deliver a station the region can be proud of, on time and on budget, built to the highest and most sustainable engineering standards."

Network Rail and Birmingham City Council plan to start work in 2009, with the project completing in 2013/14.

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