Government adds £600 billion to construction pipeline

Government adds £600 billion to construction pipeline

The government has listed a number of new transport infrastructure schemes that will provide the construction sector with £600 billion worth of contracts over the next decade.

Exchequer Secretary Andrew Jones outlined a range of schemes, which amount to an update of the 2016 plans and add £100 billion to the existing list. The figure includes both public and private money.

Noting that the government is already committed to a 50 per cent increase in transport infrastructure investment between 2015 and 2020, he detailed recommendations that have been made by the National Infrastructure Commission and accepted by ministers.

In particular, this includes the investment of up to £1 billion in the Oxford to Cambridge corridor, which will include an east-west rail link and the building of more than 100,000 new homes in Oxfordshire via a new housing deal agreed with the county councils. 

This project will be central to the plans to establish a 'knowledge corridor' between the two famous university cities. The rail link will effectively restore the old Varsity line that was scrapped in the Beeching Cuts, as well as providing new links to Milton Keynes and Bedford. 

In addition, there will be faster and better road links between the two cities.

Mr Jones reflected that the government has already managed to deliver on several projects, some of which have finished this year. He cited the Ordsall Chord rail link in Manchester, the development of the Francis Crick Institute and the £191 million M1/M6 Junction 19 improvement scheme. 

New investment in infrastructure may be particularly welcome at this time, when the civil engineering element of the construction sector has been struggling.

The latest Markit / CIPS Purchasing Managers Index Survey showed that November was the third successive month of decline for this sector, which along with commercial construction has been doing poorly recently amid Brexit-related uncertainty.

However, the survey noted that the sector has grown overall - and at a faster rate than October - due to a surge in house building. It attributed this to the strong levels of support residential construction has been getting from the government.