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- By Andy Smith
The government has launched a new “Acceleration Unit” to speed up the delivery of transport projects, which will be advised by Mace chief executive Mark Reynolds.
Campaign for Better Transport chief executive and consumer
champion Darren Shirley is to lead the new team of non-government specialists
to drive forward progress on key projects.
The unit will be in place next month and will be directly
accountable to transport secretary Grant Shapps.
The Acceleration Unit will also engage experts with experience in delivering infrastructure projects including Reynolds, after Mace oversaw the construction of the Nightingale hospital in east London in nine days. He will be joined by Highways England’s director of complex infrastructure projects, Chris Taylor, who oversaw the construction of the £1.5bn A14 scheme eight months ahead of schedule.
Alongside the Acceleration Unit, the Shapps announced £343m of investment in Wales’ railways. This includes kickstarting design work on plans to upgrade Cardiff Central station and funding to develop plans for upgraded cutting-edge digital signalling on the 241-kilometre Cambrian line from Shrewsbury Sutton Bridge Junction to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli, and proposals to speed up journeys between Cardiff and Swansea, Chester and Llandudno Junction, and the Severn Tunnel and Cardiff.
Among other road and rail investments officially announced
by Shapps were:
- £1.1m investment for Network Rail to develop short-term plans to relieve overcrowding at London Liverpool Street station
- Funding to complete the £6.4m scheme to build a new second footbridge serving all four platforms at St Albans City station, with work due to start early 2021 and be complete by January 2022
- £4m to develop the design phase for gauge enhancement and track improvements for freight trains on Great Western, Midland Main Lines and at Darlington to allow longer intermodal freight trains to operate from Teesport to Yorkshire, with the Darlington scheme delivered by October 2020
- £9.74m for signalling and infrastructure enhancements delivered on the Wessex route at Twickenham, Bracknell and Virginia Water as part of the Feltham and Wokingham Signalling Renewal Programme.
Shapps said: “As Britain begins to get moving once again after 4 months of lockdown, no-one should underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead.
“We want to accelerate Britain’s recovery by investing in
vital infrastructure that will help get businesses back on their feet, create
jobs to replace those that have been lost and level up our country.
“The creation of our new Acceleration Unit and investment in
our roads and railways will ensure we build back better, greener and faster in