TRIQS Sector Spotlight: Rail

Welcome to TRIQS’ latest series! In our sector spotlights, we’ll be highlighting the biggest news across the areas we work in, including nuclear, aviation, utilities, highways and more.

For our first edition however, we will be talking at the biggest railway developments in the UK that have caught our eye.

Naturally, one of the most notable ongoing developments in the rail sector is HS2, the new high speed rail line which is the “largest infrastructure project in Europe and the most important economic and social regeneration project in decades.”

In HS2’s September update, they reported the first phase of construction was at its height, with major works taking place across the route between London and the West Midlands. 

Their fleet of high speed trains, which have been designed and made in the UK across 3 factories, has been recognised as the most environmentally friendly in the world.

They also announced in November that they are rolling out hi-tech digital concrete testing to cut carbon on the project, following a successful trial with the pioneering VERIFI technology. This aims to cut the use of 1500 tonnes of carbon!

In their next phase, they plan on increasing focus on the design and delivery of the railway systems, including signalling, track and power; HS2 is expected to be completed between 2029-2033.

Although it was announced that the northern leg of HS2 would be scrapped, £20bn is expected to be used for the Northern Powerhouse Rail project, which will create a high speed link between Manchester and Liverpool, incorporating Manchester Airport and Warrington.

In other rail sector news, £1.5bn worth of development has been proposed for the historic Liverpool Street Station in London.

This would see a 16 storey block above the station concourse, including 6 floors for the new Andaz Hotel with a rooftop bar and swimming pool (City Lido), as well as 10 floors of offices. These spaces would fund £450m of vital station upgrades without cost to the taxpayer.

Plans also include to create a modern station entrance on Liverpool Street, simplifying access and passenger flow to the concourse – the design for these developments would mean the station will remain operational throughout the whole process.

A decision on the status of the development is anticipated by 2024. 

Last month, it was announced that the first phase of construction had begun for the £1bn West Midlands Interchange; delivered by Winvic, this is set to be the “UK’s newest and most exciting strategic rail freight site”.

Alongside this, there will also be 8m sq ft of commercial space and two country parks – estimated completion is set for 2024. 

Another big development is the new Cambridge South Station, which will cost £184m; J Murphy is already undertaking prep work on the site, and its completion date is expected to be in 2025.

This facility will improve access to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Europe’s largest centre of medical research and health science, and support the area’s ongoing growth.

This month, the Draft Rail Reform Bill was announced, which includes legislation on the creation of Great British Railways (GBR), which was initially promised in 2021. We anticipate seeing how this will affect rail construction in the future!

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