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NCE Live News Updates Tuesday 4 March: Contractor shortage forces Midlands rail scheme to be scaled back

Coventry to Nuneaton rail upgrade scaled back after bids come in three times over budget; Brian Cox to judge £1M engineering prize.

3pm: The storm-damaged railway at Dawlish in Devon will re-open earlier than planned, Network Rail said today.

The section of Great Western Main Line will now be brought back into service two weeks earlier on 4 April. New chief executive Mark Carne told MPs last week that he hoped to be able to bring forward the mid-April date.

Thee main 100m breach has been repaired with nearly 5,000t of concrete and 150t of steel, and a new 200m track is ready-built for installation.

”This is just one example of the extraordinary efforts by the railway industry to restore services after the unprecedented floods and storms of this winter that affected many passengers up and down the country,” said Carne.

10am: An overheated market is to be blamed today for Coventry City Council’s decision to scale back plans for a £19M upgrade of the Nuneaton to Coventry rail line

The council’s Cabinet is to be told that the full scheme, that would see two new stations built and train frequencies doubled, will have to be built in stages after tenders to carry out the vital signalling works came in three times over budget.

“The civil and track tender process resulted in a tender broadly in line with expectation,” says the council in a paper to its Cabinet. “By contrast, the signalling process resulted in bids three times the estimated works cost. The reason for this appears to be an overheated signalling market.”

The council plans to now build the scheme in two phases with an overall completion date of 2017 - four years later than planned. But it has yet to devise a funding strategy for the second phase that includes the signalling works.

Read the full story here.

8:30am: Civils work grew by 7% last month, according to research.

The sector registered 182 on the Glenigan Index – its highest reading since the index began in 2006.

All regions bar the North East, and Yorkshire and the Humber, had more civil engineering project starts in the last three months than in the same period a year earlier, according to the index.

The overall construction industry was 10% bigger in the three months to the end of February 2014 than it was a year earlier.


8am: TV star Brian Cox has been named as a judge for the £1m Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.

Cox, former keyboardist in pop group D:Ream and star of BBC series Wonders of Life, will be joined by Buro Happold chief executive Paul Westbury and five others on the panel.

The prize celebrates those responsible for a ground-breaking innovation in engineering that has been of global benefit to humanity.

Cox said: “From the earliest times, people have worked to shape the world around them and improve their lives through engineering.

“We need more engineers now, to carry on this legacy, and it is imperative that parents encourage their children, especially their daughters, to study STEM subjects.”

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