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UK budget commits to infrastructure projects Dec 2011
Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk
A list of 40 infrastructure projects are prioritised in the UK Government's public spending budget for 2012. Announced by the UK minister of finances, these include the £750 million extension of the London Underground Northern Line to Battersea and the estimated £32 billion High-Speed 2 (HS2) rail project.

Dedicated high-speed trains on dedicated track for HS2

A 2011 National Infrastructure Plan report issued on Tuesday (29 November) outlines a basic framework and timescale for the HS2 project, and promises to make public the preferred route between London and Birmingham by the end of this year "if appropriate."
The report also confirms the Government's intent to "continue to implement the £14.5 billion Crossrail project", and promises, for the first time, Government support for a £750 million 3km tunnel extension of London's Underground Northern Line from Kennington to Battersea if a developer can be found to carry out a £6 billion urban regeneration of the area that could include the construction of 16,000 houses.
High-Speed 2
The report also states that the Government is working towards producing a HS2 Parliamentary Approval Bill by October next year, and that it then intends to consult on and select a route for the second Birmingham-Manchester phase of the project by December 2014.

Proposed eventual route of HS2

Construction has been timetabled in the report to start in 2017 (subject to consultation) and to have services coming on-line in 2026.
The process of finding a development partner for HS2 has already started, and four design consultants are on the shortlist for a £50-70 million management services contract to develop the scheme ready to take the approval process through Parliament in October 2013.
The list, announced on 3 November, 2011, comprises Turner & Townsend, Mace, CH2M-Hill and Parsons Brinckerhoff.
Most of the work on this contract will consist of environmental impact assessments on stretches of line as far as Birmingham. This will be followed by the highly competitive £160-200 million civil engineering and structural design services contract which would include design of at least three tunnels of approximately 4km, 8km and 1km in length.
The deadline for groups to prequalify for this part of the project was also 3 November, but the outcome is not expected to be revealed until the environmental assessment and legislative framework are at a more advanced stage.
Northern Line extension
For the extension of the London Underground between Kennington and Battersea, the UK Finance Minister George Osborne announced no Central Government funding, but said that local government authorities may be allowed to borrow hundreds of millions of pounds from the private sector against their future income streams from business rates.

The preferred Northern Line Extension route involves two new stations and a twin-bored 3km tunnel

He also offered to create an Enterprise Zone in the area, which would afford significant tax breaks to investors, in a bid to find a suitable developer for the kind of enabling housing and business development which will make the underground extension worthwhile.
Osborne also used Tuesday's Autumn Budget Statement to announce £6 billion of direct extra government funding for infrastructure projects, and unveiled a new scheme under which a further £20 billion will be made available via direct investment from UK pension funds. It was also revealed that an understanding has been reached with China to inject further funds into UK infrastructure projects.
Announcements were also made concerning intentions to change the planning system so that it is presumed to favour sustainable infrastructure projects from the outset; to overhaul the Private Finance Initiative; and to recognise that the Government needs to step in to assist in sharing risk on complex projects such as HS2 and the Northern Line Extension.
References
Design partnership for UK High-Speed 2 - TunnelTalk, August 2011
High-speed rail pitch for the UK - TunnelTalk, August 2009
Underground extension to Battersea in London - TunnelTalk, October 2009
Major Crossrail tunnel contracts awarded - TunnelTalk, April 2011
Scheduling for success at Crossrail - TunnelTalk, April 2011

           

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