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NCE Live News Updates Friday 17 January 2014: Crossrail reaches halfway

Mammoth London rail project celebrates landmark

4.45pm: The Highways Agency is to start on £1.1M of maintenance work on the M621 near Leeds next week.

Work will take place from 22 January to 31 March on the motorway, which links the M62 with the M1.

It will include carriageway repairs, road markings, road studding, gantry improvements and barrier works.

Highways Agency project manager Alan Apps said: “This work will improve journeys for drivers on the M621 near Leeds, resulting in smoother journeys and improved safety for drivers.

“To minimise the disruption to drivers we will be carrying out a number of improvement schemes at the same time.”


3.45pm: The government is to look into ways of improving the A12 in East Anglia.

The Department of Transport said an official study into the A47 through Norfolk would also consider the A12 between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

Transport minister Robert Goodwill said: “Good quality roads don’t just reduce congestion and improve safety, they boost the economy by unlocking growth.

“The A47 and A12 are vital roads that give motorists and businesses access through the East of England and I want to ensure both provide the best service possible. These studies will ensure that investment will be targeted where it’s most needed.”


3.30pm: The government has shortlisted three teams for the East Coast rail franchise.

First Group, Keolis/Eurostar and Stagecoach/Virgin will compete for the right to operate trains on the line.

The government urged them to consider how they intend to use a new generation of trains to deliver more passengers to more of the UK’s biggest cities faster and in greater comfort.

Rail minister Stephen Hammond said: “Giving passengers more will be at the heart of the new East Coast franchise.”


3pm: Civils contractors have described Simon Kirby as “the ideal candidate” for his forthcoming role as chief executive for construction of High Speed 2.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association said Kirby had proved his credentials in his current role as managing director of infrastructure projects at Network Rail.

CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner said: “Simon’s appointment is thoroughly deserved.

He will bring a wealth of industry experience to this crucial role in delivering Britain’s biggest infrastructure project to date.

“His success at Network Rail is evident in the record levels of investment made under his watch, and we believe he is the ideal candidate for what will be a vital role in delivering the biggest rail project of its kind in Europe.”


2.45pm: Aecom has secured a $103M (£63M) deal to oversee construction of a tunnel scheme in Hong Kong.

The firm will supervise the 4.2km Tseung Kwan O – Lam Tin Tunnel project, which will include a two-lane highway.

Aecom also secured a $13M deal for the design of the scheme, which will become part of Hong Kong’s Route 6.

Chairman and chief executive officer John M Dionisio said: “Since 2009, we have been involved in the planning of this project, providing preliminary design and other services. We are very proud to be able to contribute to the project’s next phase.”


2pm: HS2 Ltd has appointed Simon Kirby as chief executive of construction for the £43bn scheme.

Kirby is currently managing director of infrastructure projects at Network Rail.

HS2 chairman David Higgins said: “I am extremely pleased that we have secured Simon to run what will be the biggest infrastructure project in Europe, and one of the biggest in the world.  

“Delivering this project in a way which is not just cost effective, but also delivers its benefits to as much of the country as soon as possible, is a huge engineering project, but Simon has proven throughout his career that he is capable of taking on such a unique challenge.”

Kirby is credited with transforming Network Rail’s relationship with its key suppliers. He will join HS2 Ltd in June.

It has also been confirmed that current HS2 chief executive Alison Munro will become managing director of development in September. 


11am: Senior figures have been called in front of MPs to discuss the flooding that has hit the UK.

The cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will take evidence from Environment Agency chief executive Paul Leinster on recent events.

It will also quiz Mehboob Khan, chair of the Local Government Association’s safer and stronger communities board, and North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson.

The committee will look at lessons that can be learnt from the floods and the impact of funding cuts on the UK’s ability to cope with such events.

The meeting will take place on Wednesday 22 January.


10.45am: Trains from Sussex to London have been disrupted by flooding this morning.

Network Rail said the Balcombe Tunnel on the Brighton Main Line was flooded from early this morning, with water flowing above the rails.

Engineers are on the scene with pumps, and a limited train service to begin. But with heavy rain due in the area, further disruption could occur.

The East Grinstead line remains flooded at Lingfield and Dormans, and the Redhill-Tonbridge route blocked at Nutfield.

Network Rail route managing director for Sussex Tim Robinson, said: “It has been a difficult start to the day and we apologise to passengers for their disrupted journeys today.”


10.30am: Crossrail is not the only major tunneling project to be celebrating today.

Tunnel boring machine Busy Lizzie has completed its 6.9km drive on Thames Water’s Lee Tunnel.

The TBM was launched by the MVB Consortium formed from Morgan Sindall, Vinci Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche from a shaft at Becton pumping station in January 2012.

The Lee Tunnel will create a new link between the Abbey Mills pumping station and Beckton adding 380,000m3 of storage and preventing 16Mt of sewage entering the River Lee each year during periods of heavy rainfall.

In total 430,000m3 of material has been excavated from the tunnel, which has been lined by 30,000 precast concrete segments, each 1.7m long and 350mm wide.

The tunnel is expected to be operational in April 2015.


10am: The £14.8bn Crossrail project has reached halfway, according to its promoter.

Half of the required work to create the mammoth trans-London rail scheme has been completed, Crossrail said.

Prime minister David Cameron visited the project’s Tottenham Court Road site to mark the occasion.

Almost 30km of tunnels have been bored, and work is underway on all 10 new stations as well as on works above ground west of Paddington and east of Stratford.

Some 10,000 people are currently working on Crossrail, including more than 280 apprentices.

Cameron said: “Big infrastructure projects like Crossrail are vital for the economy of London and the rest of Britain.”

Crossrail is due to open in 2018.

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