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NCE Live News Updates Tuesday 21 January: Barcelona to revamp famous Nou Camp stadium

Big projects news today: Crossrail will handle a quarter of a billion visitors by 2026; work continues to avoid a walk-out on Panama Canal; and Barcelona unveil Nou Camp plan

2.30pm: Crossrail marks another milestone with Whitechapel breakthrough.

Another milestone in the £14.8bn rail scheme was reached today with the breakthrough to Whitechapel station of a 1,000t tunnel boring machine (TBM).

The TBM, nicknamed Elizabeth was launched from the Limmo site near Canning Town towards the end of last year digging its way from Canary Wharf towards Stepney Green and then on to Whitechapel and Liverpool Street.

It will reach its final destination in Farringdon by the end of 2014.

It was one of a number of breakthroughs expected in the next few weeks as the project reaches the end of its construction phase.


2pm: Barcelona sets out €600M (£494M) plan to rebuild Nou Camp stadium

The club has decided to rebuild its famous stadium rather than move to a new location. The rebuilt stadium would have a new capacity of 105,000, an increase of around 5,000 seats, with every seat now under cover. A new, steeper first tier would improve the view of the action.

A club is to hold a referendum on the plans on 5 or 6 April. If approved, work would begin in May 2017 and end in February 2021.

The work would be going on throughout three and a half football seasons and Barcelona will continue to play all its games at the stadium with no temporary reductions in capacity. Work will be scheduled so that the exterior is tackled during the season, while the work on the terraces will be done in the summer, thus minimising the inconvenience caused to spectators.

Today’s announcement comes after a year and a half of studies, an investment that has cost around £1M. The club has been working with architect ISG, event organiser AEG, project manager Icon Venue Group and cost consultant Ryder Levett Bucknall.


11am: RedR has announced it has raised nearly £60,000 for its emergency appeal for the Philippines typhoon.

This has allowed it to send a team of expert trainers to the Philippines. They’ve been working with the RedR’s of India and Australia, United Nations agencies and other NGOs like Save the Children to train aid workers in essential water and sanitation and shelter skills.

Read RedR’s news story to find out more, and look out for in-depth interviews and analysis of how the Philippines is rebuilding in its March issue of Red Alert magazine.


10.30am: A new report from Arup has indicated that Crossrail could deliver significantly more passengers to central London than previously estimated.

Driven by population and employment growth in London and the South East, the report reveals that Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon stations could serve as many as 250M passengers by 2026. This figure represents 65M more passengers than previous estimates suggested. 

On an annual basis, this is equivalent to some 166M additional passengers than use the three stations today.

The report The impact of Crossrail on visitor numbers in central London was prepared on behalf of three Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) – the New West End Company, inmidtownThe Fitzrovia Partnership – working with City Of Westminster, London Borough of Camden, Transport for London and Crossrail Ltd, and revisits previous projections that were used for the Crossrail Hybrid Bill in 2004.

Arup was commissioned to undertake the study to help businesses, local authorities and other organisations revisit and plan for Crossrail’s impacts and opportunities.

Arup said the report will help inform the debate about the need for further investment in “active city management”, for example in the areas of traffic control, safety and security, choices around pedestrianisation, public lighting and other elements of the “public realm”. It references the need to ensure funding mechanisms and resources are available to maximise the benefits Crossrail will deliver to the centre of London.

10am: News from Panama where contractors did not down tools yesterday as threatened.

Work on the $5.2bn (£3.2bn) Panama Canal expansion continued yesterday at reduced pace despite a threat by the contractor to down tools over a massive £991M claim.

Grupo Unidos Por el Canal (GUPC) – composed of Spain’s Sacyr Vallehermoso, Italy’s Salini Impregilo, the Netherlands’ Jan De Nul and Constructora Urbana of Panama – won the design and build contract for the locks work in July 2009. GUPC’s £1.9bn bid was the only one of the three that was less than the ACP’s allocated cost of £2.12bn.

According to GUPC that amount has ballooned due to unforeseen issues beyond its control, prompting it to issue an ultimatum to client the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).

The showdown began late last month when GUPC sent a letter to ACP saying that unless the cost overruns were paid, the contractor would suspend work on the job after 21 days. The 21 day deadline would have expired yesterday.

On Sunday afternoon the contractor announced that work on the job would not stop on Monday despite it being well within its rights to do.

However ACP officials said that the threat to stop work “was not valid, lacks merit and goes against what is established in contract for the design and construction of the third set of locks”.

They also noted that activity on site yesterday was considerably slower than normal: between a quarter and a third of the regular amount.

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