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NCE Live News Updates Monday 3 March: Landslip delays reopening of Kent rail line

Network Rail had hoped to run full service on Hastings-to-Tonbridge route for first time in four weeks.

5pm: Atkins is seeking 70 apprentices to work on its civils projects.

The firm kicked off an application process for the positions, which will be based at its offices across the UK.

Atkins chief executive for UK and Europe David Tonkin said: “There continues to be too few graduates with the right engineering skills coming through the education system.

“We must have alternative routes for young people to enter our profession otherwise we will have to deal with the consequences of solving future challenges such as urbanisation, climate change and energy generation without enough qualified people.”


3.15pm: Green enery producers have urged the UK government to back 2030 renewables targets at EU council meetings this month.

Renewable Energy Association chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska wrote to ministers who will be discussing a climate and energy framework in Brussels.

She wrote: “Technology-neutral policy won’t deliver technology-neutral results when the dice are already loaded.

“For affordable green energy in the 2020s and beyond, we need a renewables-first approach to 2030, with CCS and nuclear filling in the gaps renewables can’t fill yet.”


3pm: The London 2012 Aquatics Centre is now open to the public.

The Zaha Hadid-designed pool was built for the Games, and reconfigured for legacy mode, by Balfour Beatty.

Housing two 50m swimming pools, a diving pool and training facilities, the Aquatics Centre will now be operated by Greenwich Leisure.

Balfour Beatty programme director Stuart Fraser said: “We are delighted that the Aquatics Centre is reopening to the public as this marks the beginning of the history of the pool in legacy mode.”

“The success of the remodelling work is testament to the sustainable construction methods originally utilised, which have ensured we leave a lasting sporting, cultural and commercial legacy.”


2.30pm: London Mayor Boris Johnson has been won over by plans to build a tunnel in Hammersmith for the A4.

The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham wants to create a ‘flyunder’ and redevelop the land above ground.

Johnson said on LBC Radio this morning: “They’ve been working for months in Hammersmith and Fulham on plans to take that flyover and make it a flyunder. We’ve been listening to these plans for months, thinking it’s never going to happen.

“But actually, it is brilliant. It’s a most fantastic scheme. We’re going to tunnelise the flyover. The timescale will be in three or four years. What was so interesting was that even the hardened TfL engineers looked at this, having been pretty skeptical, and they thought it was a great scheme.”

Johnson even cited the scheme as a key reason for not becoming an MP.

“If you’ve got that kind of scheme on your agenda, daily excitement of helping to run the greatest city on Earth, why would you want to do anything else?” he asked.


2pm: The first images have been released of how Hammersmith town centre could look if reconfigured with the A4 underground.

Before and after images of the area show the six-lane road placed in a tunnel, and new green space created along with homes and offices.

Around £1bn of former highway land could be freed up to help pay for the ‘flyunder’ scheme, according to a feasibility study by Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

See the images here.


12.30pm: A six-week consultation has been launched over government plans to introduce variable speed limits on a section of the M5.

The motorway is to be upgraded between J4a and J6 with variable speed limits to be used to manage traffic speeds and reduce congestion.

Draft regulations have been published for comment as part of the consultation, which will run until 14 April.

The scheme is subject to completion of the statutory processes, confirmation of funding and continued value for money.


11am: The first three-car train has arrived for Hong Kong’s new South Island metro line.

Transport operator MTR took delivery of the first of 10 train sets which have been built for the line by Chinese manufacturer Changchun Railway Vehicles.

The fleet will undergo a series of tests before the 7km line opens in 2015.

MTR Corporation chief executive officer Jay Walder said receiving the train was a key moment in the project.

“It not only signifies another important milestone for the railway project but also means we are closer to extending fast, convenient, world-class railway service to people living and working in Southern District, not to mention the millions who visit the many tourist attractions on the South side of Hong Kong Island each year,” he said.


10.30am: Plans to redevelop an area of waterfront in Southampton have moved a step closer to being realised.

Southampton City Council, Associated British Ports and the Crown Estate signed a development agreement with RPW (Southampton) for the Royal Pier Waterfront.

RPW, owned by Morgan Sindall Investments and funders Lucent Group, will submit a planning application for a comprehensive mixed-use development at the site. 

The listed Royal Pier has been disused for years since being damaged by a fire and storms. 

Southampton City Council leader Simon Letts, leader said: “The Royal Pier Waterfront development is the flagship project in our overall plan to further enhance our city’s reputation as a first-class destination to live, work and visit.”


10am: The two-month standoff that threatened to derail the £3bn Panama Canal expansion has been resolved.

The two parties reached an agreement late last week over payments for the locks portion of the ambitious project.

Panama Canal Authority and contractor Grupo Unidos Por el Canal both announced the conceptual agreement and indicated they would sign it this week after reviewing it.

The accord requires that the project be completed by the previously agreed deadline of December 2015.


9.30am: A fresh landslip has put back the re-opening of a rail line in Kent that has been disrupted for a month.

Network Rail had announced that the Hastings-to-Tonbridge route would be fully open this morning after four weeks of engineering effort to fix problems caused by three landslips.

Repairs were completed on landslips at Stonegate (pictured) and Battle. But a slip at Whatlington was found to have started moving again on Friday night, putting back reopening by several days.

Train operator Southeastern is running replacement buses between Battle and Robertsbridge this morning.

Network Rail route managing director for Kent Fiona Taylor said: “We have to put safety first and in this instance the movement of the landslip means it will not be safe to run trains over it for a few more days.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • I cannot comment on the specifics of the recent land-slip in Kent, but it would be fair to say that we have become reactive rather than pro-active when it comes to dealing with natural catastrophes. As an industry we do not make enough use of real-time monitoring, either to understand the hydrodynamics/mechanics that lead to slope instabilities or the catchment wide processes that generally result in flooding.

    I’m drawn to the scene in the film ‘The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3’ where Denzel Washington is looking at the control board for the trains running up and down the New York subway and trying to work out in real time what the bad guys are up to. It makes me think that we need to apply the same technology to our natural systems so that we can see how they are behaving in real-time and that means a greater density of telemetrically linked data logging between the vadose zone, groundwater, streams, rivers, reservoirs, canals and rain gauges. The same technology should be applied to assess ‘unstable’ slopes in real time and be correlated to inclinometer monitoring for example. Imagine if we were able to see in real-time, slope hydrodynamics and mechanics or catchment-wide natural behaviour on one ‘board’ and were able to use the inherent lag time in systems to predict and forestall the worst. The unfortunate thing is that we are not talking about the use of high-end science; IT and telecoms have been using real-time whole systems monitoring for many years simply because of the need to manage risks in real-time and the same approach must be applied to the natural and built world. As an analogy, there are in the order of 420,000 CCTVs in London (at a cost of ~£1500/unit) and yet the BGS monitors in the region of only 30 boreholes over a considerable area. It's time we ask ourselves the difficult question of what do we want to protect, what social impacts are we willing to live with including to business resiliency and what do we value as a society? Stefan Le Roy, Groundwater Specialist, WSP

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