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NCE Live News Updates Thursday 21 November: High Speed 2 paving bill gets Royal Assent; 24 hour Tube plan revealed

High Speed 2 takes a big step forward with Royal Assent for its paving bill. Plus changes in the Capital as plans for a £200M conversion of the Olympic Stadium into a football stadium and for a 24 hour Tube network are unveiled.

5pm: The High Speed Rail Preparation (paving) Act has received Royal Assent.

High Speed 2 (HS2) took a major step forward today as the High Speed Rail Preparation (paving) Act received Royal Assent following its successful passage through Parliament.

The act received overwhelming cross party support throughout its Commons and Lords stages, with both MPs and Peers joining with the government to emphasise the importance of HS2 to the country’s capacity needs and growth ambitions and pushing for it to be delivered as soon as possible.

This act allows expenditure on essential preparatory work, including construction design, on Phase One and Phase Two of HS2 and all future phases of a high speed rail network. It also provides reassurance to continue making compensation payments to those affected by the route.


11.30am: Plans for 24 hour Tube revealed

London Underground is to operate a 24-hour Tube service at weekends from 2015, it has announced

It said it will look to introduce this service in phases from 2015. The initial 24-hour weekend Tube network will be comprised of regular services on the Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria, Central and Jubilee lines.

Read more on LU’s website here.


11am: Cycle safety - Commons committee to take evidence

Just been alerted to the fact that the Transport Select Committee is to hold an oral evidence session on cycling safety on Monday 2 December.

“Six cyclists have been killed in London in the last two weeks: 14 have been killed so far this year, equalling the number killed in the whole of 2012. These are individual tragedies for the families involved, but they also draw attention to continuing concerns about the safety of cyclists on our roads,” said committee chairman Louise Ellman.

“Many of these casualties involve large vehicles, especially HGVs, and there is now debate about whether they should be banned from city centres at peak times. This will have consequences for businesses which need to be assessed.

“There is also debate about the behaviour of drivers and cyclists and whether more can be done to promote compliance with the law. Concerns have also been expressed about whether vehicle and road infrastructure could be changed to protect cyclists and whether new developments, such as London’s cycle superhighways, are safe. We would like to stimulate debate on all of these matters,” she said.

Give your views

The committee wants to hear views on:

  • Whether cycling is safe, particularly in towns and cities
  • What central and local government could do to improve cycling safety. Ideas could include better training and advice for drivers and cyclists, better enforcement of the law applying to drivers and cyclists, and better vehicle and road infrastructure.
  • Whether it would be desirable and feasible to segregate cyclists from other road users, including, for example, by prohibiting HGVs from entering city centres at peak hours.

Other ideas for improving cycling safety would also be welcomed.

Views can be sent via Twitter @CommonsTrans using #cyclesafe.

Alternatively, written submissions are welcome until Tuesday 26 November. These must be submitted via the Transport Committee website.



Update from overnight: Plans for the £200M conversion of the Olympic Stadium into a football stadium for West Ham United were unveiled in detail yesterday.

The plans were revealed ahead of work starting later this week. This will see the Olympic Stadium’s 14 iconic floodlight panels removed so that construction of the new roof, twice the size of the original, can begin in earnest next spring.

With a 84m span at its deepest point, it will be world’s longest cantilevered stadium roof.

This is one of a series of fundamental changes that are to be implemented prior to 2016 in order to transform an athletics arena into a 54,000 seat, UEFA Category four football Stadium.

West Ham United vice-chairman Karren Brady explained: “This marks a key milestone in the stunning, £200M transformation of the Olympic Stadium - one that will culminate in an iconic new home for our Club.

“The roof is a truly phenomenal design that will enhance the iconic status of this sporting arena and help to lock in the world-famous atmosphere that our supporters create when we play at home.”

Balfour Beatty is contractor.

The work explained

Balfour Beatty has been appointed to carry out the roof works.

Its project director Stuart Fraser said dismantling the existing floodlights and taking down the cable net roof was going to be “an enormous challenge”.

“The roof is going to be taken down over the next four months and the lighting panels are starting to come down now,” he said.

There are 14 lighting panels in total, each weighing 34t. For stability they are tied together on circumferential cables. New temporary supporting cables are needed to allow these to be removed.

“We have to put in a new network of cables across the venue,” explained Fraser. “This spider’s web of cables is now in place, which means we can start snipping the circumferential cables and taking the towers down.”

Once the lighting towers and their supporting structures are down, Balfour Beatty will begin taking down the fabric of the roof before gradually lowering down the existing cable-net structure.

“We’re due to complete late February, early March of next year,” said Fraser. “Then, the deconstruction is complete and we start on the construction of the new roof.”

That will take a year, completing in spring 2015, which gives five months to prepare the stadium for the Rugby World Cup in the Autumn.

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