Vital rail and road upgrades that will create jobs, increase connectivity and boost the economy will be delivered more quickly thanks to the launch of a new ‘Acceleration Unit’, transport secretary Grant Shapps announced today (21 August).
The new team of specialists will join the DfT to tackle delays to infrastructure projects and drive forward progress.
The unit is set to be in place next month and be led by Darren Shirley, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport.
It will also engage experts with significant experience in delivering infrastructure projects including Highways England’s director of complex infrastructure projects, Chris Taylor, who oversaw the construction of the £1.5bn A14 scheme and Mark Reynolds of MACE, who oversaw the construction of the Nightingale hospital in East London in nine days.
The creation of the team follows the establishment of a new Northern Transport Acceleration Council, dedicated to swiftly levelling up infrastructure across the north’s towns and cities, forming a direct link between Westminster and local leaders.
Today also sees the launch of Highways England’s Strategic Business Plan and Delivery Plan, both for 2020-2025. The two documents will set out how the company will take forward the plans set out in the government’s RIS2 strategy to improve England’s road network. The Delivery Plan will confirm the delivery schedule for road upgrades and schemes the government will be funding over the next five years.
Shapps said: “As Britain begins to get moving once again after four 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 the future.”
Chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said: “This £360m investment in our roads and railways will help drive our economic recovery from coronavirus – creating jobs and levelling-up by ensuring businesses across all corners of the UK have the opportunities they need to grow.”
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