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NCE’s guide to all things international

Innovation in Japan threatens to undermine the UK’s railway technology ambitions and British infrastructure must aspire to excellence or risk losing the global race, it’s all here in NCE’s guide to the top international stories.

Japan has dominated the headlines in the past few weeks. The Central Japan Railway Company (JRC) told NCE of its plans to build a new ultra-high speed link from Tokyo to Osaka, with trains reaching an incredible 500km/h. The Chuo Shinkansen railway will run the super conducting Maglev system, which uses electromagnetic coils cooled by liquid helium to propel the trains.

The head of JRC has also set his sights on the East Coast of the United States as the next location for the technology. “The second place to deploy this is the New York City to Washington DC corridor,” chairman Yoshiyuki Kasai said. “It is the same distance as Tokyo to Nagoya and it has the right conditions,”

While the UK debates in great detail what it might and mightn’t like about High Speed 2 (HS2), the grander visions in Japan threaten to undermine the UK’s ambition to lead the development of innovative railway technology.

Murray Rowden of Turner and Townsend agrees. He says that British infrastructure must aspire to excellence to compete on the world stage, when faced with fast-growing competitors overseas and a debate at home about how projects are paid for, it must become more efficient or risk losing the global race.

Closer to home, the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset will rely heavily on British expertise and skills, project developer French energy giant EdF insisted last week. EdF said that “up to” 57% of the £14bn cost of building the plant with its two nuclear reactors will go to the UK supply chain. This is despite a heavy French influence on the choice of tier one suppliers and the announcement of the involvement of two Chinese nuclear firms in the deal to finance the project.

French engineering firm Artelia has told NCE that it hopes its role on the outer Paris rail loop will help it secure work on High Speed 2 (HS2). Artelia has won contracts for client support and general operations management on the scheme to build lines 15, 16 and 17 of the Grand Paris Express. When completed the lines will form a 110km loop around the French capital, including 41 stations and three maintenance centres.

In other news, senior climate change experts told NCE that engineers must seek out and grasp the opportunities presented by global warming. The civils industry could trigger an “age of invention” to help the world meet the challenges of climate change, according to one. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last week declared it “extremely likely” that human influence had caused temperatures to rise over the past 60 years.

Keep following NCE’s daily live news updates to stay ahead of the top international stories, and look out for the next international alert in November.

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