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NCE Live News Updates 16 July 2013: Boris nails colours to mast with call for Heathrow to be razed

Boris Johnson has called for a £50bn four-runway hub airport to be built in the south east and for Heathrow to be levelled to make way for housing.

The London mayor will tell the Airports Commission that Heathrow, Europe’s largest airport, should be replaced by a new garden city or a royal borough.

Johnson has earmarked three potential sites for the new hub airport: one on the Isle of Grain in the Thames estuary, an offshore estuary option, and a re-booted Stansted.

He said: “Ambitious cities all over the world are already stealing a march on us and putting themselves in a position to eat London’s breakfast, lunch and dinner by constructing mega airports that plug them directly into the global supply chains that we need to be part of.

“Those cities have moved heaven and earth to locate their airports away from their major centres of population, in areas where they have been able to build airports with four runways or more.

“For London and the wider UK to remain competitive we have to build an airport capable of emulating that scale of growth. Anyone who believes there would be the space to do that at Heathrow, which already blights the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners, is quite simply crackers.”

Heathrow will set out its own ideas for a third runway today.

11:39: Loose fishplate join blamed for fatal French derailment

A ‘fishplate’ used to join two lengths of track together has been blamed for a derailment on the outskirts of Paris which killed six people on Friday.


An eclisse, or fishplate’ joining tracks

At 5.15pm local time on Friday a train carrying up to 380 passengers from Paris to Limoges derailed at Bretigny sur Orge station partially demolishing a station platform.

A spokesman from France’s national rail company SNCF told NCE today: “The cause of the crash was an ‘eclisse’, a piece of metal which links two pieces of track.”

“The eclisse went out of its position and settled in the points,” he said. “It is not a problem of the points.”

The failure of the 10kg eclisse, which the spokesman said was under 50cm long, has kicked off an extensive inspection programme encompassing all 5,000 similar joins used throughout the SNCF network.

13:09: Vinci adds critical mass to cycle safety programme

Vinci UK has joined Mace in making cycle safety a key to pre-qualification to working on its London-based schemes.

By January next year all suppliers delivering to Vinci sites in London will require bronze accreditation with the TfL-operated Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS).

This means vehicles will need signage warning cyclists of the dangers of passing on the inside and drivers will have to complete a Safe Urban Driving (SUD) course.

As well as the above, from July next year any lorry over 3.5 tonnes visiting Vinci sites will also require side guards and sensors.

The firm’s head of UK health and safety, Andy Sneddon, acknowledged that the diktat would “have a big impact on suppliers, but he told NCE: “Crossrail (which has FORS requirements) has been a key driver and with Mace and now us, the contractors are coming to realise that they need to get on board with this.

“Embracing FORS and cycle safety will effectively become a done deal if you want to pre-qualify,” added Sneddon

Sneddon said the company would put its money where its mouth was by pushing its 100 or so of its van-driving ‘mobile repair technicians’ through the SUD course:

“It means each of our drivers will be put on a bike and they will experience cycling in London. It won’t be round Piccadilly, but they will have ago,” said Sneddon.

14:06 Government announce 21st Century roads ‘vision’

The government has today published a package of reforms that it says will end the ‘tap-on-tap-off’ approach to maintaining and upgrading the UK’s roads infrastructure.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said that like the rail industry, certain large roads projects, many of them already pinpointed in the earlier Spending Review, would now have their funding guaranteed by law.


Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin

McLaughlin said: “From 2015 England ‘s roads will benefit from long term funding certainty and a five year investment strategy”.

“On our railways, we draw up plans over five year periods, supported by a secure, guaranteed long term funding stream. And it is thanks to this approach that we were able to announce last summer the biggest modernisation programme for our railways since the Victorian era.

“The contrast with roads, where nothing like that existed, was stark. The result has been an uncertain, tap-on-tap-off approach to how we build and maintain our road network.”

The minister also followed through with his early pledge to turn the Highways Agency, the body responsible for our motorways and trunk roads, into a publicly owned company, a move that McLoughlin said would “free it from red tape”.

The Action for Roads: A network for the 21st Century plan follows on from last month’s Spending Review in which the Government earmarked £28billion for roads.

McLoughlin said: “If that (the Spending Review) answered the question of ‘what are you going to about our roads?’, then today’s reforms provide clarity about how we are going to deliver it.”


14:45 Britains railways among safest in Europe but no room for complaceny says regulator

Britain’s railways are “among the safest in Europe” but industry regulator the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has warned against complacency and called for improvements in track worker safety and the management of its infrastructure.

There have been no passenger fatalities for six years running and in its annual safety report the ORR concluded that Britain’s railways are the best in Europe “when it comes managing passenger and level crossing rail safety”.

However, only four days after a commuter train crashed on the outskirts of Paris (see above) the ORR also warned: “…the safety of track workers, those working on rail construction sites and passengers at stations or on platforms” could be improved. 

It also said: “Network Rail needs to gain better understanding of the condition of its bridges, tunnels and other assets to help the planning of maintenance and renewals work. This will improve their resilience and lower the risk posed by their failure”.

ORR Director of Railway Safety, Ian Prosser, said: “To maintain improvements the regulator has recently approved increased funding for the next five years to improve safety-critical areas of Britain’s railways, with additional money to improve the condition of structures such as bridges or tunnels, as well as to upgrade and close level crossings.”

To read the full report, click here.






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