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NCE Live News Updates Friday 22 November 2013: Labour sets out infrastructure white paper plan; Rescue efforts underway following Latvian collapse

Rescue attempts were continuing today in the aftermath of a supermarket collapse in the Latvian capital Riga. At least 32 people are understood to have died and a criminal investigation is underway. In the wake of another disaster, Typhoon Haiyan, the official death toll has now risen beyond 5,000. In lighter news NCE’s interim editor Mark Hansford last night scooped a prestigious journalism award.

3.30pm: Network Rail has published four reports that aim to predict demand on the railway network over the next 30 years.

The four market studies provide predicted demand figures and the kind of services needed to deal with that demand for London and the South East, long distance, regional urban and freight.

While each market study prediction is set against potential growth or decline scenarios for the national economy, they do not suggest infrastructure improvements. Work to begin making these long term recommendations will be carried through to the railway infrastructure operator and owner’s next phase of work as part of its long term planning work with the Rail Delivery Group, which includes representatives from passenger and freigh operators.

Key points

London and the South East: The rail market in London and the South East is dominated by demand for travel into central London, in which public transport predominates with a 90% market share. Roughly half of the trips into central London involve use of National Rail, delivering 575,000 people into the centre each day. Historically, the market for central London commuting has grown at an average rate of 1.5% to 2% annually but there is a prediction of 1.3% in the peaks going forward. Growth in the off peak – is steady at four per cent and predicted to continue at that level.

Long distance: At present around 150M long distance journeys are made by rail annually. This suggests a 10% rail mode share overall, although rail dominates the market for travel between many large cities (such as Leeds to London). In the case of those cities, demand is predicted to rise between 108% and 145%t by 2043 if the UK economy grows, or by 40% to 50% if it struggles.

Regional urban: Unlike commuting into London, very few people are willing to commute into regional urban centres if the generalised journey time is greater than 60 minutes. Improvements to generalised journey times within this 20 to 60 minute range will have a large impact where both the number of people in the population catchment of the origin station and the number of jobs in the catchment of the destination station are high. The study predicts a growth of up to 114% in the Manchester commuter market by 2043 if the economy booms, or between up to 67% if not.

Freight: Total freight traffic, in terms of tonne kilometres moved, is forecast to increase at an average of 2.9% per annum through to the year 2043, implying that the size of the market more than doubles over this period. This particularly reflects expected growth in the intermodal and biomass sectors.

Network Rail group strategy director Paul Plummer said: “The investment decisions we make today will last for generations and it is vital that we base them on solid groundwork. These market studies have been developed in consultation with rail industry partners and wider stakeholders and they are the crucial first stage towards planning the future for the railway.

“The next stage will be the creation of a series of route studies, which will develop choices to deliver the conditional outputs across the four markets in each of Network Rail’s devolved routes, and to test them against our funders’ appraisal criteria. I look forward to continuing to work with the rail industry on the next stage of the long term planning process.”


1.30pm: The number killed by Taiphoon Haiyan in the Philippines has risen to 5,209, according to official figures from the country’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The number of homes suffering damage has also gone beyond 1M.


1pm: Rescue attempts began overnight and are continuing today after the roof of a supermarket collapsed in the Latvian capital Riga, killing at least 32 people.

Rescue efforts continued through the night and police have launched a criminal investigation, according to the BBC.

Reports say a garden was being constructed on the roof of the single-storey concrete and glass building at the time.

It is unclear whether many more people remain trapped.


Update from overnight…

NCE’s interim editor Mark Hansford was last night named Construction/Infrastructure Writer of 2013 at the prestigious International Building Press annual awards.

Hansford took the title in the newly-introduced category, in what the judges said was a growing area and a category that was hotly contested. The judges thought the overall standard was very high with technical complexities explained very well. However, jugdges in particular praised one of Hansford winning submissions on Moscow Spartak’s new football stadium.

“His article on the Russian stadium was a technical tour de force,” they said. “It explained the byzantine Russian codes very well and really got under the skin of the project, which could not have been easy.”

Overall, they said Hansford’s winning articles were “all interesting, very well written and explained technical subjects simply and without any jargon”.

Shortlisted in the category was NCE sister title Construction News news editor Tom Fitzpatrick. The judges said Fitzpatrick’s articles were “written with great clarity, well researched and highly informative”.


Also: Shadow chancellor Ed Balls yesterday said that Labour had decided not to wait until the next General Election to begin implementing its proposals for a new National Infrastructure Commission.

Speaking at a National House-Building Council event yesterday, Balls said the party had asked Olympic Delivery Authority chairman Sir John Armitt to produce a draft white paper based on his Labour-commissioned report detailing the policy, administrative and legislative steps necessary to establish and operate his proposed National Infrastructure Commission. Armitt told NCE in September that such a commission could be up and running within six months.

“We cannot simply wait until the next general election to implement his proposals in statute,” said Balls, who added: “This landmark reform is vital. And we are determined to work with you – on infrastructure, as well as on skills, planning and housing finance – to build a recovery that is built to last and ensure that more people can own their home and share in rising prosperity.

ICE director general Nick Baveystock said: “Effective delivery of nationally significant infrastructure needs continuity of decision making, stability for investors and integrated, long term plans - these are almost inevitably at odds with short term political needs.  To get the infrastructure we need, on time and to budget, we must get better at generating cross party consensus.  The ICE has long championed the concept of an independent infrastructure commission as a vehicle to achieving this and we therefore support Sir John’s proposals.”


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