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Alex's blog

I’m NCE’s News Editor and love nothing more than hearing all the gossip, news and views from the industry’s key figures - so do get in touch if there’s a burning issue you want to see in NCE’s news pages.

Network Rail embraces its suppliers

Posted by Alexandra WynneWed, 22 Aug 2012

The efficiency programme at Network Rail is beginning to yield results but the work is also highlighting what is left to be done.

High Speed 2 uncertainties resurrect Heathrow third runway

Posted by Alexandra WynneThu, 21 Jun 2012

With political conviction for High Speed 2 (HS2) faltering behind the scenes at Westminster there is a rise in favour of resurrecting plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport.

40th anniversary special: A world of possibilities?

Posted by Alexandra WynneFri, 1 Jun 2012

Tunnels under the Atlantic, High Speed 5 and Apple in charge of the world – all of which are possibilities for the next 40 years as far as civil engineers are concerned.

The yawning gap that lies between form and function

Posted by Alexandra WynneWed, 23 May 2012

We’re used to the age old friction between architects and engineers, but in these unrelenting economic doldrums the clash of ideals between what is iconic and what is affordable or appropriate is heightening.

Why don't more British contractors work abroad?

Posted by Alexandra WynneWed, 4 Apr 2012

There’s no question that the UK’s lingering economic troubles keep stifling the construction industry but, in the dawn of a global economy, can and should engineering firms be doing more to exploit overseas opportunities?

Hinkley row exposes flaws in planning reform

Posted by Alexandra WynneTue, 28 Feb 2012

A flurry of new nuclear announcements last week combined to send out the clear message that the UK is finally set for such developments to actually get built.

A high speed world needs political consensus

Posted by Alexandra WynneWed, 25 Jan 2012

In the past fortnight there has been a surge in chatter about the prospects of mega-transport schemes High Speed 2 and the Thames Estuary airport. But still the government faces the question of how to fund these projects while keeping taxpayers happy or, alternatively, how to entice a risk-averse private sector to get on board.

Regional growth in danger of entering economic doldrums

Posted by Alexandra WynneMon, 14 Nov 2011

Last week’s revelation that 119 bidders had won cash from the second round of the government’s Regional Growth Funding (RGF) may have given them cause to celebrate but for others it served as a stark reminder that there will be little of the same forthcoming from central government.

Government infrastructure commitment looks uncertain

Posted by Alexandra WynneWed, 12 Oct 2011

As the party conference season drew to a close last week those looking for consistent — and reassuring — infrastructure policy from the main political players were left wanting.

High Speed Two needs to signal its true intentions

Posted by Alexandra WynneFri, 23 Sep 2011

High Speed 2 (HS2) this week seemed to move a step closer to being a done deal but there remain many unanswered questions.

Long-term plans in a short-term society

Posted by Alexandra WynneWed, 10 Aug 2011

The UK needs to develop a new multi-mode transport hub in the south east to become a global economic powerhouse of the 21st century. At least that was the message last week from a group of engineers and architects who have become the latest to join the lobbyists for a new Thames Estuary transport development.

Do unreliable traffic forecasts blight PFI viability?

Posted by Alexandra WynneWed, 29 Jun 2011

The game is up for PFI — the public seems reconciled to the idea that it has worked primarily as a handy accounting tool to keep costly major projects off the government’s balance sheet. But are the secondary benefits enough to protect its reputation as the best — or only — procurement method in times of economic crisis?

All change for road maintenance as cost pressures mount

Posted by Alexandra WynneWed, 1 Jun 2011

A major culture change among highway authorities could be the only way to save Britain’s roads from irreversible disrepair. At least that is the latest message to industry from local government spending watchdog Audit Commission.

Geotechnical firms must dig in to stay ahead of recession

Posted by Alexandra WynneWed, 18 May 2011

At a time when the industry is crossing its fingers and hoping to be on the up curve out of the recession, many are still struggling to have faith that good times lay ahead.

Will thinking local help simplify the planning process?

Posted by Alexandra WynneTue, 5 Apr 2011

Government efforts to stimulate the national economy are translating into plans to promote regeneration and infrastructure projects more locally.

It’s too soon to sound the PFI death knell

Posted by Alexandra WynneWed, 23 Feb 2011

Britain needs to spend £200bn on its infrastructure, and with government budgets tight, it looks as though private finance will have to plug at least some of the gap over the next five years.

The blame game is still rumbling on for TfL and PPP

Posted by Alexandra WynneWed, 26 Jan 2011

Recriminations over the Tube PPP should have died along with the sale of Tube Lines to Transport for London (TfL), but after more than six months blame continues and improvements are hard to spot.

Is IUK’s civils costs study leaving stones unturned?

Posted by Alexandra WynneThu, 13 Jan 2011

In the final days before Christmas, Treasury body Infrastructure UK (IUK) announced its long-awaited findings of its study into why civils costs are so high.