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DoT launches scheme to SPEED up delivery of rail projects

The scheme to reopen the Northumberland line between Ashington and Newcastle is already benefitting from SPEED.

The scheme to reopen the Northumberland line between Ashington and Newcastle is already benefitting from SPEED.

The Department of Transport has launched a project aimed at halving the time and reducing costs of delivering rail infrastructure projects across the UK.

Project SPEED was unveiled by rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris who said: “The whole country has relied on the transport industry over the past year, to keep the country moving, supplies delivered and key workers to their jobs saving lives. We are now depending on transport to kickstart our economic recovery.

“Rail Project SPEED, forged alongside Network Rail, is a call to arms to cut unnecessary red tape, be bold and purposeful, and empower the railway to be radical in its thinking to halve the time and reduce the cost of delivering infrastructure projects.

The project name is an acronym of Swift, Pragmatic and Efficient Enhancement Delivery and was developed by the Department of Transport together with Network Rail.

In developing the SPEED approach, 10 key themes to lowering costs and speeding up the delivery of infrastructure schemes were identified.

These included rapidly increasing the use of innovative construction methods and removing complexity from planning processes.

Andrew Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive, said: “There has never been a more important time to make the case for rail.  The pandemic has spurred us to make real progress in removing barriers that have long hindered industry transformation.  But of course, there is still much more to do, and we will do that faster and more effectively when we work together across the industry.”

One project already benefitting from the SPEED approach is the scheme to reopen the Northumberland line between Ashington and Newcastle, which closed to passengers in 1964.

The project also offers opportunities for the supply chain to come up with innovative ways to contribute to accelerating project times and reducing costs.

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