Following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, the Prime Minister set out her vision to get “Our great cities firing on all cylinders to rebalance our economy”.
An inclusive economy that sees growth across all regions needs to be built on an holistic integrated transport strategy and the effective delivery of capital projects and transport services.
Better transport infrastructure will help to rebalance the economy by connecting and improving productivity across the UK’s regions; reinforced by the recently launched National Needs Assessment of the UK Infrastructure by Sir John Armit.
Areas in the North and Midlands have seen relatively little improvement in connectivity over the past 10-15 years.
Transport investments would help these regions to 'catch up' with London and other economic centres around the UK.
Examples include the new proposed Northern Powerhouse east-west rail route, High Speed 2, the Lower Thames Crossing to the east of London, and numerous regional road network enhancements.
However, these gains must be made within affordability constraints: money is tight, regardless of whether it comes from the Government or the private sector, and there is no shortage of potential projects.
So, how can policy-makers and businesses make good investment decisions? What are the key questions to grapple with and get right if investment in transport is to successfully shape the future of the economy?
We believe there are five..
First, what is the best way to appraise transport schemes and link this directly to economic growth.
Second, how can we learn and benchmark from other projects to ensure that sponsor requirements and affordability are set correctly?
Third, what should happen to ensure that the project portfolio is fundable and each project is set up for commercial success?
Fourth, what are the best operating models and delivery strategies to provide confidence in outcomes?
And finally, what are the appropriate governance and assurance procedures that need to be put into place?
If the transport sector can really answer these five questions, then policymakers and businesses will be able to make the right decisions, with speed and confidence, and shape better futures for us all - helping provide greater connectivity and truly rebalance our economy.
As a Civil Engineer I can see a unique opportunity over the next 10 to 15 years to make a generational difference to our transport networks, similar to those we see today elsewhere in Europe