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Crossrail director says scheme will be UK construction 'flagbearer'

Crossrail’s programme director has admitted it is time for the £14.7 billion scheme to “fly the flag for UK construction” following the successful conclusion of the Olympic Games.

Andy Mitchell told CN that schemes such as Crossrail, the £6bn Thameslink programme and the Olympics all showed the UK’s strengths in building world-class infrastructure as the political debate continues on future schemes including HS2 and Crossrail 2.

He said: “We recognise with the Olympics being over, it is beholden to us in as much as it makes sense to carry the flag for UK construction.

“We understand that and will do all that we can, tempered with the fact that we’re 25 per cent complete and there’s a long way to go and we don’t want to shout too early.”

“What people are appreciating is we absolutely can deliver infrastructure projects in this country, safely and efficiently and on time.

“We understand our role in continuing to build on that growing reputation.”

Crossrail is planning to compile and publish a series of ‘lessons learned’ documents, similar to the strategy of the Olympic Delivery Authority on its learning legacy portal.

Infrastructure came to the fore this week at the Conservative Party conference, where transport secretary t reiterated the government’s support for HS2 and announced that 57 highways schemes worth £170 million were to undergo construction in the next two years.

The biggest of the highways schemes is the M5 junction 4 phase 2 widening deal at Bromsgrove, which will cost £11.3m and start in 2014. 

The Midlands will be the biggest beneficiary with 20 schemes worth £51.6m to progress. The North-west will have six schemes worth £31.3m while Yorkshire, Humber and the North-east will share a £30.4m pot for 10 schemes.

Mr McLoughlin said the schemes have the potential to help deliver more than 300,000 jobs and 150,000 homes.

The announcement came on the same day that the CBI released a new report calling for the Highways Agency to be replaced, with roads funding to go through an independent regulator.

In a new report with Aggregate Industries, Bold Thinking: A model to fund our future roads, the CBI argues that the future of the roads network should be regulated with the government taking advice from a newly created highways forum.

Aggregate Industries director of sustainable construction Miles Watkins said: “The longer view the government could cast on the strategic road network, the better it will be for everybody.”

“Companies have been taking out people and skills because today [the industry] is about the worst it’s ever been in construction, but the need is so vast that it will [soon] get incredibly busy.

“But the action piece is entirely missing and our worry is that it’s a heavily politicised agenda. We need that action last week; we can’t wait till the middle of 2014 before people start spending in this area.”

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