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NCE Live News Updates Wednesday 12 February: Atkins trading update, hole appears in M2

Today: Atkins trading update, Severn Bridge closed, hole appears on M2 in Kent, Network Rail electrification contract value emerges.

5pm: The M6 in Cheshire has become the latest casualty of the weather.

The motorway has been closed in both directions between J19 at Knutsford and J21a at Croft Interchange.

Winds of up to 69mph have been registered along the Thelwall Viaduct this afternoon.

The carriageways will not re-open again until wind speeds drop.


4.45pm: Trains will not run between Preston and Carlisle this evening due to the severe weather.

Services have been suspended between 7pm and 9pm with extremely high winds battering the North-west.

There is also no service between Bangor and Holyhead in Wales between 2pm and 8pm.

Services are very limited from Paddington in London to the South West following the damage to the track at Dawlish.

There is a reduced service between Oxford and Didcot as a result of the flooding in the Thames Valley.


4pm: David Cameron has announced £61M of funding for flood-related projects in the road and rail sectors.

The prime minister awarded £31M for 10 weather resilience projects on the railway.

He also gave local authorities £30M for maintenance of roads damaged by the severe weather.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We are facing exceptional weather conditions right now. We’re working with transport operators to make sure everything that can be done to reduce the impact of the storms and floods on our transport system and speed up recovery is being done.

“We’re also determined to boost the resilience of the transport network against future severe weather. The funding the Prime Minister has announced today, along with the other measures we are putting in place, will help make this happen.”


2.30pm: Some 50 homes flooded last night in the Thames Valley, the Environment Agency has said.

This brings the total number of homes flooded since 29 January to 1,135.

The Agency says more than 181,000 homes have been protected in this time.

Sixteen severe flood warnings remain in place as the rain continues to fall.


2pm: High volume pumps have arrived in the West Country from Holland as the Environment Agency continues to fight floods on the Somerset Levels.

The total number of pumps deployed in the area is now 96, pumping up to 7.3M tonnes of water off the Levels every day.

Over the past week, 23 demountable defences have been put up by Agency staff around the UK.

EA chief executive Paul Leinster said: “With further rain expected in the coming days, after the wettest January on record in England, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.”


12pm: Work has begun on the Humber Bridge’s new toll collection infrastructure.

Britcon is building the plaza canopy that will house electronic payment technology.

It is part of a £5.5M project that will include decommissioning, installation and changes to road layouts.

Drivers will be able to use the new system by next year


11am: The Severn Crossing has been closed to high-sided vehicles due to extreme weather.

The bridge, which carries the M48 between England and Wales, is experiencing very high winds.


10.45am: Atkins’ rail and highway consultancy divisions brought in for 40% of its UK revenue since 1 October, it said today.

The company said its UK business “continues to trade well”. It added that it expected an increase in operating margin in the second half of its accounting year.

Atkins said its global performance was in line with expectations. Its outlook for the full year remains unchanged.

It said it continued to invest in its business in the Asia Pacific region as it focused on diversification from a historic base in Hong Kong and mainland China.


10.30am: The ABC Electrification consortium has revealed that its work on Network Rail’s electrification scheme will be worth £900M.

The joint venture of Costain, Babcock and Alstom secured two of the six contracts on the National Electrification Programme.

It said the work was worth £900M over the initial seven-year term, with a possible extension of a further three years.

“We are delighted to have been appointed to this major electrification programme by Network Rail, helping to upgrade and refresh the UK’s transport infrastructure,“ said Costain chief executive Andrew Wyllie.


10am: The Highways Agency has cancelled planned roadworks on routes near the closed section of the M2.

The motorway remains closed in Kent between J5 and J6 in both directions as work continues to investigate what caused a hole to open up in the central reservation yesterday.

Drivers heading to and from Dover have been advised to use the M20. A diversion around the closed section of motorway is in place via the A249, the M20, the A20, the A252, and the A251.


9.30am: A university in the North-west is to modernise its petroleum engineering laboratory as it bids to create a centre of excellence in areas including fracking.

The University of Salford launched a procurement process for a contractor to refurbish and upgrade the lab in its Newton building.

The lab supports research, innovation and enterprise in disciplines including fire and explosions; unconventional reservoir analysis; and fracking technology.

Contractors have until 3 April to register their interest in the work.


9am: Like Bill Murray in a famous ’90s film, we keep waking up to the same depressing weather outlook. Only it’s the Environment Agency that is in the unfortunate position of playing the groundhog.

With another day of rain forecast for the South of England, the Agency has 14 severe flooding alerts in place along the River Thames, along with two in Somerset.

Groundwater flooding is also expected this week in Hampshire, Kent and parts of London. The River Severn remains high.

The Agency’s chief executive Paul Leinster said late yesterday: “Stormy weather will continue to threaten communities this week, with further flooding expected along the Thames in Berkshire and Surrey. River levels are high across south west, central and southern England, and further rain has the potential to cause significant flooding.”


8.30am: The M2 in Kent remains closed between J5 and J6 in both directions this morning for safety reasons as work continues to investigate what caused a hole to open up in the central reservation yesterday.

The hole, between junction five for Sittingbourne and junction six for Faversham, is approximately 5m long, 2m wide and 5m deep and was reported yesterday afternoon by Highways Agency contractors.

Engineers were joined on site by the emergency services including Kent Fire & Rescue Service. Cameras have been and will continue to be used to investigate the extent and nature of the hole.

The site was closely monitored overnight, whilst equipment and materials are being organised and deployed to site ready for contractor Balfour Beatty to start work as soon as it is safe to do so.

Update from yesterday: Transport infrastructure the future focus for prime minister David Cameron

Prime minister David Cameron has said that transport infrastructure will be a “particular focus” for future flood defence spending in a press conference late yesterday afternoon.

Cameron was responding to a question challenging flood defence spending.

“We have increased the money spent on flood defences. And we have announced an extra £130M of funding last week. But truth is when you have this kind of weather it is very difficult to have all the protections you need,” said Cameron.

“Lessons will be learned about where the extra money can make most difference, and I think there will be a particular focus on transport infrastructure. That will be absolutely key to building a more resilient country,” he said.

Read what prime minister David Cameron had to say in more detail in yesterday’s Live News Update.

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