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NCE Live News Updates Tuesday 10 December: Tidal surge broke records; London 'will choke' without Crossrail 2

The Environment Agency details how last week’s tidal surge broke a raft of records with a peak sea level rise of 5.8m recorded in Hull; former transport secretary pushes case for Crossrail 2.

6pm: London will choke unless we act now on Crossrail 2, says Adonis

Last word of the day to forrmer transport secretary Lord Adonis who has told the Evening Standard that Crossrail 2 is vital to London’s future prosperity -…

“This new north-south underground line needs to be built straight after the completion of the east-west Crossrail 1 in 2019. So it ought to be an immediate priority for [London mayor] Boris Johnson,” says Adonis. “For the new line to open in the mid-2020s, the Mayor needs to decide, early next year, on a route, a construction timetable and a credible funding package.”


2pm: Network Rail is to spend £15M improving the railway at Whiteball tunnell between Taunton and Tiverton

From 18 January, Network Rail will be carrying out works to repair Whiteball tunnel to prevent the aging structure from deteriorating. In addition, work will be carried out to expand the drainage system and to improve the embankment around the area as part of a wider programme to alleviate flood risks posed by extreme weather.

Around 5km of track will be renewed and seven units of switches and crossings relaid separately at Taunton and Tiverton to enable trains to travel at a higher speed.

Whiteball tunnel is a 1km Victorian brick arch structure built in 1844 which has deteriorated over the years. To prevent potential brick fall the tunnel lining was previously relined with wire mesh; during this railway closure a new concrete lining will be applied to the worst areas of the brick arch to prevent future deterioration.

The Tiverton end of the tunnel has also been identified as a potential flood site, as it was amongst the locations affected by the extreme weather condition in December 2012. The track was flooded owing to excess water spilling from the cess as well as blocking the culverts in the area.


12pm: How can the design of gantries and cantilever structures be made more aesthetically pleasing?

The rail industry’s Enabling Innovation Team, which forms part of the FutureRailway programme, has teamed up with High Speed 2 to promote a competition through the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Read RIBA’s press release on this competition:

First: Worth reflecting on last week’s tidal surge which broke records, with the highest tide in London since completion of the Thames Barrier in 1984.

The Environment Agency has produced this flood map showing what London would have looked like last week without the Thames Barrier.

London without the Thames Barrier

London without the Thames Barrier

In all, 800,000 properties in England and Wales were protected by flood defences, yet 18,000 people still had to be evacuated, as shown on the Environment Agency infographic above.



From late yesterday: News that Balfour Beatty has brought in Mark Cutler to lead its regional construction and civil engineering business.

Cutler will join Balfour Beatty from Barhale at the end of January 2014. He has spent the last three and a half years as chief executive of Barhale; before that he was managing director of Morgan Est.

Balfour Beatty’s regional business, which delivers projects ranging in value from £100,000 to £100M, currently turns over £1.8bn.  Activity is delivered through four regional hubs in Manchester, Edinburgh, London and Bristol and 17 delivery units across the UK and Ireland aligned to local customers.

Readers' comments (1)

  • The article on the tidal surge is anomalous.
    The map of London has a caption which states that it represents the area which WOULD have been flooded without the barrier whereas it really shows the extent of the land which is below the measured level of the tidal surge.

    The article states that this was the highest tide since the completion of the barrier in 1984 but the previous flood defences, still in existence, withstood the 1953 flood and another in 1970 which was within 6" of the 1953 mark. I was at the Ranelagh Sailing Club on Putney Embankment during that flood with the water about 2ft deep in the boat store under the clubhouse and witnessed the level relative to the mark on the doors which shows the level of the 1953 flood.

    The true caption would be that this would have been the extent of the flood if no defenses existed and even this would probably not be true in that it takes time and water to occupy that extent and the level would have been lower if the water was not restrained which is the reason that the defences were increased downstream of the barrier to withstand the reflected wave caused by the barrier itself.

    Archie Campbell

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