The residents of Wimbledon and Morden are looking forward to the Thames tunnel sewer project and members of the community will be meeting councillors next week at the Morden Community Forum to discuss the scheme. Representatives from Thames Water will be available to answer questions from local residents as part of the 14-week public consultation currently being held.
The meeting gives local residents the chance to talk about the implications the Thames Tunnel Project will have on the local area, but for the most part, the feeling is that the Thames Tunnel project will have a positive effect on the wider community.
Lower Morden Councillor, Maurice Groves, thinks the Thames Tunnel scheme will “have huge implications for Merton”. He also believes the project will be even “bigger than Crossrail”.
Flooding in the area has been a huge problem for years and in July 2007 several people had to be evacuated from their homes after flooding was caused by torrential rainfall. Local residents are hoping that the upgrade works on the London-wide sewerage system will help to prevent any future repeats of the widespread damage caused by the 2007 floods in the Lower Morden area.
The Thames Tunnel will stretch for 22 miles and is intended to replace much of the aged Victorian sewerage system originally built in the 1800s. The sewage tunnel will be constructed up to 75 meters below ground and is the final (and most challenging) section of the Thames Tunnel project.
As well as providing employment in the local area during the construction phase, the Thames Tunnel will significantly reduce local flooding once it is operational. It will also be a cost efficient way of tackling the very big problem of raw sewage entering the Thames River each time there is heavy rain in the area.
The government has announced today further details of the planned investment in UK rail infrastructure. As part of the £8 billion investment in vehicles for the National Rail Network, Crossrail will also benefit with the addition of new rolling stock. Although it has been announced that the National Rail Network can expect to receive 1,200 new vehicles, the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, has not released details of which other operators will receive some of the allocation as commercial negotiations are still taking place. However, Crossrail will be the recipient of the remaining balance.
The Government is also planning electrifying parts of the rail network to deal with the recognised overcrowding problems faced on many lines. The Great Western Main Line to Oxford and Newbury will be electrified, but there are no plans to electrify the Midland Main Line, which will cause disappointment for many living in the East Midlands. Some lines in the North West will however benefit—including Liverpool and Manchester to Blackpool.
With the introduction of new rolling stock vehicles, the existing Class 319 fleet from Thameslink will be distributed to the Great Western Line and the planned electrified lines in the North West.
Network Rail has already announced that they are very pleased with the government’s decision, as they believe that Britain’s railway infrastructure is the key to future economic growth. However, spokesperson for the RMT union, Bob Crow, has a different opinion and feels that the much-needed infrastructure and upgrade works are still too far in the future to really make a difference, but the Government has defended the delays by stating passengers could expect to see benefits within a few months at the latest.
The Thameslink scheme has also been given the go-ahead with a planned delay of two years has helped to cut costs. Once the work has been completed, capacity on the congested Brighton to Bedford line will be doubled.
Reports across the national media have today announced the release of the government’s first ever Infrastructure Plan. For the first time ever, this indicates that the government is planning on shifting its focus towards better maintenance and use of existing infrastructure assets.
Major infrastructure projects such as Crossrail will be given a higher priority, although the government has indicated it will only make significant investment in projects such as Crossrail that are intended to be part of a long-term strategy dictated by future requirements. They must also be affordable and meet a need that cannot be met by current maintenance and investment.
When the National Infrastructure plan was announced by David Cameron at this mornings CBI conference in London, he went on to explain how the government would be unlocking over £200 billion of public and private sector investment over five years. He is hopeful that this plan will help the UK business sector to thrive and compete with other nations. There is currently a pipeline of projects valued at between £400 billion and £500 billion over the next ten years.
Lord Sassoon, the Treasury’s commercial secretary, commented that the UK needs to make sure reliable infrastructure networks such as transport, water, energy, digital communications and waste disposal networks are reliable and fully integrated. This will help the economy to flourish and grow.
The government is also planning on taking a look at the Regulatory Asset Base model used in the utilities sector to see if it could work with infrastructure assets, but although a similar scheme might appear to be very good news for building contractors as it will allow work that is otherwise un-funded to go ahead, some are concerned that it could also lead to a stranglehold on competition, as only one firm will then benefit from the completed asset.