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NCE Live News Updates 12 June: Rail watchdog urges Network Rail belt tightening

The Office of Rail Regulation has proposed £2bn less for running the railways than Network Rail forecasted.

12:30pm: The vehicle that caused the Washington bridge collapse was carrying a load up to 300mm taller than could clear the structure, according to a preliminary report into the disaster.

The National Transportation Safety Board said that a 2010 Kenworth truck-tractor was travelling over the Interstate 5 Bridge in combination with a 1997 Aspen flatbed trailer.

It says the driver believed the load on the trailer to be 4.8m high, while the lowest portion of the ‘sway bracing’ was 4.5m.

“As the oversize load was being transported across the bridge, the top of the load collided with the overhead portal and multiple sway braces on the far right side of the truss structure,” added the report.

“The impacts caused significant damage to load-bearing members of the bridge’s superstructure, resulting in the failure and subsequent collapse of the northernmost bridge span.”


11.30am: Hyder Consulting has boosted turnover by 8% in a year.

The engineering advice firm posted revenue of £298.1M in the 12 months to 31 March 2013 – up from £277.3M in the previous year.

Pre-tax profit was up 7% over the same period to £18.8m.

Chairman Sir Alan Thomas said: “Our net cash position is strong, and Hyder’s record order book attests to the value of our international market coverage and client relationships.”


11.15am: Heathrow Airport has hit back in the battle over the future of UK air travel.

The London airport released a survey showing that two-thirds of residents in local boroughs feel the advantages of Heathrow outweighed the disadvantages.

London mayor Boris Johnson wants to see a new hub airport built in the Thames Estuary to meet the growing demand for air travel from the UK without expanding Heathrow.

But Heathrow director of corporate affairs Clare Harbord said: “Anti-Heathrow campaigners claim that everyone living near Heathrow is opposed to the airport - but that simply isn’t true.”


11am: Civils contractors have hailed the rail watchdog’s protection of Network Rail’s budget for enhancement works.

The Office of Rail Regulation today outlined its proposals for the track operator’s spending from 2014 to 2019 (see 10am).

The ORR said Network Rail required £12.24bn for enhancements to railway infrastructure – down just £15m from the operator’s strategic business plan.

Alasdair Reisner, external affairs director at the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said: “The last decade has seen rapid escalation in the use of our railways, which has created a boom in construction on the network to meet growing demand. If we are to keep pace with this growing demand it is vital that Network Rail is supported to continue this investment.”


10am: Network Rail could spend almost £2bn less than it has budgeted on running the railways over the next five years, according to a government watchdog.

The Office of Rail Regulation said in a report that the track operator needed £21.4bn for support, operations, maintenance and renewals work from 2014 to 2019.

This compares to £23.3bn outlined for the purpose in Network Rail’s Strategic Business Plan.

The ORR said: “Seen in the context of continued growth in passenger demand, this means that the costs of running the railway per passenger km will fall by 28%.”

Network Rail “welcomed” the proposals and said it would analyse the findings before giving a formal response in September.



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