Once upon a time Britain was at the forefront of transport. From George Stephenson to Henry Royce and Charles Rolls, the country was home to some of the most important innovators of their time.
Fast forward to today and the weight of traffic on roads, creaking rail infrastructure and packed airports means travelling around the UK is often more stressful than we’d like.
Plans are in the pipeline to boost transport across the country and billions of pounds have been allocated to get Britain back on time and running smoothly. We look at proposals coming to a station near you.
£1.7bn towards transport.
In his Budget speech, chancellor Philip Hammond pledged £1.7bn to transport development in English cities. Half of this will be assigned to combined authorities with mayors while the other half will apparently be allocated by competition.
The money is intended to support intra-city transport by improving connectivity, driving productivity, reducing congestion and utilising new mobility services.
The £1.7bn will be invested on a per capita basis to the six combined authorities with elected metro mayors, including locations such as Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, West of England, West Midlands and Tees Valley.
This will enable them to invest in their transport priorities. This is investment in transport will come as a welcome relief to those spending long periods of time on public transport before and after work, especially in the wake of a study that found commuters with journeys more than 45 minutes felt greater levels of stress and anxiety and lower levels of life satisfaction.
By changing transport systems for the better, the mental health and thus, productivity of workers is expected to increase.
One of the largest sums of money is heading for the long-awaited High Speed 2 (HS2), which will receive £300m for infrastructure capable of serving the Midlands and the north.
This is part of a larger scheme to utilise the often-neglected north of the country and create transport links to serve what is hoped to be a future Northern Powerhouse. The new network will allow faster services between Liverpool and Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and York, as well as to Leicester and other places in the East Midlands and London.
Not only will this new focus on the North provide a wealth of opportunities in regions that have previously suffered deprivation, but the project itself will be responsible for the employment of many others. Currently, HS2 employs around 1,500 people and this number is expected to grow as the project expands.
A nationwide infrastructure revival is something that will require new civil engineers, a role that has long been suffering a skills shortage. A large contributor to this shortage is the disparity between males and females taking on the role.
Only 8% of UK engineers are female and the government has pledged to explore how to improve the accessibility and transparency of data on this issue by institution and subject.
Furthermore, the Budget suggested that opportunities for lifelong learning will be available for those wanting to retrain or learn the skills necessary to further their career. The news was welcome for the civil engineering sector, which as it increases their chance of recruiting the best candidates for the role.
firing old engines.
The UK’s rail network is an integral part of keeping the country running and getting people to work on time. Public transport is also a greener way to travel with shared vehicles clocking up fewer dirty miles than a fleet of cars.
Those familiar with the rail network may shudder at the expression ‘signal failure’ so will welcome the £84m being invested in state-of-the-art in-cab digital signalling.
It is hoped that this digital technology will transform the railway, improve services and allow trains to run more frequently, more environmentally efficient and more economically.
It will also create more work along the affected lines so engineers and rail workers alike will benefit. The same also goes for the new fleet of trains heading for the Tyne and Wear metro in Newcastle, with £337m being allocated to regenerate the system.
Reinvigorating the public transport systems and infrastructure is something that will be welcomed across the UK. With faster and more frequent services enhanced by technology, long journeys will be made far easier.
The opportunities the government are proposing that will provide people with the training and skills necessary to complete such a feat in infrastructure, will assist in the wealth of work that will fall upon the rail and civil engineering sectors.
The tracks have been laid down, now it’s time to get investment running at full steam.