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NCE's hot topics: Higgins on challenge ahead at Network Rail; Middle East unrest causes workload fears; predicting earthquakes

New Network Rail chief executive David Higgins has spoken to NCE for the first time since joining the rail operator. He sets out the challenge ahead as his organisation prepares to double in size to cope with a booming workload.

Lead story

Programme management expertise will be crucial to Network Rail’s efforts to drive down costs on the UK railway and meet the challenge of providing vital new capacity, according to new chief executive David Higgins this week. Talking for the first time since joining Network Rail from the Olympic Delivery Authority at the start of February, Higgins also promised earlier engagement with designers and contractors and a closer relationship with the supply chain. Read the story here.


While protests and unrest spread across the Middle East, even affecting traditionally perceived ‘safe’ countries like Oman, inevitably, questions are being asked around the exposure of engineering firms in the region. Consultants who have been uprooted from places such as Libya have a stressful wait to discover what their legal obligations are and how both UK and Libyan authorities may interpret their contracts. Read more here.

As the Olympic Park races towards completing its major venues, judgement day will soon follow on whether they work as engineering and architectural icons. Although many big names from the engineering, architecture and construction worlds are represented, it is unclear how many will be heralded as having carried out their finest work at the Park. Read more here.

Major earthquakes in Italy, Haiti and New Zealand in the past two years have shown the devastating effect they can have on infrastructure and communities. Engineers have a huge responsibility but how far can they go to protect communities? It seems much needs to be communicated in hazard perception. Read more here.

Discussion forums

As the public consultation on High Speed 2 opens, what are our thoughts on the project? Its a lot of money - but the West Coast Main Line is unquestionably overcrowded. What’s to be done? Add your thoughts here.


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