Acceleration Unit launched to fast track UK transport projects
Posted: 25 August 2020 | Sam Mehmet (Intelligent Transport)
The new unit aims to boost the delivery times of major transport infrastructure projects as new funding is announced.
A new Acceleration Unit has been announced by the Transport Secretary. Grant Shapps. The unit aims to facilitate vital rail and road upgrades in the UK that will create jobs, increase connectivity, and boost the economy.
The new team of specialists will join the Department for Transport (DfT) in order to tackle delays to infrastructure projects and drive forward progress for passengers.
The unit is set to be in place in September 2020 and will be directly accountable to the Transport Secretary. It will be led by Darren Shirley, currently Chief Executive of the Campaign for Better Transport and formerly of Which? Magazine.
Alongside the Acceleration Unit, the Transport Secretary also announced a raft of upgrades to Wales’ railways, with £343 million of investment to deliver better, faster, more reliable journeys for passengers.
Shapps said: “As Britain begins to get moving once again after four months of lockdown, no-one should underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead.
“We want to accelerate Britain’s recovery by investing in vital infrastructure that will help get businesses back on their feet, create jobs to replace those that have been lost and level up our country.
“The creation of our new Acceleration Unit and investment in our roads and railways will ensure we build back better, greener and faster in the future.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, added: “This £360 million investment in our roads and railways will help drive our economic recovery from coronavirus – creating jobs and levelling-up by ensuring businesses across all corners of the UK have the opportunities they need to grow.”
Shirley said: “I am delighted to take on this important new role, bringing a fresh perspective and external advice to accelerate the delivery of key infrastructure projects and programmes.
“The breadth and depth of expertise in my new team will stand us in a good stead as we look to deliver the schemes that will help the country to rebuild faster through decarbonising the transport system and levelling up Britain as we emerge from the coronavirus crisis.”
The Acceleration Unit will also engage experts with experience in delivering infrastructure projects including Highways England’s Director of Complex Infrastructure projects, Chris Taylor and Mark Reynolds, Chief Executive of Mace, which oversaw the construction of the Nightingale hospital in East London in just nine days.