Network Rail awards final west London station upgrade contracts for Crossrail

Network Rail has awarded the final contracts for upgrades to stations in west London as part of the delayed flagship Crossrail project.

The upgraded stations will benefit from improved passenger flow, new ticket halls and enhanced accessibility with lifts and footbridges, as well as step free access in order to prepare the stations for a boost in passenger numbers when Crossrail fully opens.

Work at West Drayton, Hayes & Harlington and Southall will be carried out by Hochtief whilst Graham will undertake the work at Acton Main Line, West Ealing and Ealing Broadway.

 

Mark Wild, Crossrail’s chief executive, said: “London needs the Elizabeth Line completed as quickly as possible and brought into service for passengers.

“It is very encouraging that Network Rail are now able to award these remaining station contracts which form an important part of their remaining work on the Crossrail project.

“These station upgrades are vital to supporting the increased numbers of passengers who will use these stations once the Elizabeth Line is fully open.”

Network Rail delivered the enabling works for the new station buildings by installing the foundations and steel frames last year, and the new ticket halls and step free access will be completed by December 2020.

Crisis-hit Crossrail, which was originally due to open in 2018, has been hit by a number of delays and bailouts, but last month its bosses revealed that the Elizabeth Line would be open by March 2021 at the latest.

Network Rail’s project director Dave Corkett said the upgrades will be an important element of its work on the Crossrail project, and said the contract will allow it and the new contractors to “deliver these important station upgrades that are so eagerly awaited by local communities in west London.”

Lawrence Jackson, managing director of Hochtief, said it was looking forward to delivering the upgrade works with minimal disruption, whilst Graham rail director Jonny Kerr said it was “delighted to be appointed to this nationally important infrastructure project.”

For more articles like this, please visit Rail Technology Magazine.

Ringway replaced by Kier on £210m contract

Thames Water tenders £15m-plus laboratory services framework contract

Thames Water has gone out to tender with a framework contract for goods on the laboratory supplies framework worth an estimated £15.92 million in total.

The water company intends to award 1 or more agreements for goods on the framework which will apply across both water and wastewater, either directly or on its behalf by its contractors.

The framework is being tendered in the following Lots:

  • Lot 1 –  Supply of Instrument Parts
  • Lot 2 – Supply of Consumables and General Lab Equipment
  • Lot 3 – Standards
  • Lot 4 – Supply of Sampling Bottles
  • Lot 5 – Microbiology — Media testing and Reference Materials
  • Lot 6 – Water Sampling and Testing Equipment: E.coli and Coliforms and Cryptospordium.

Thames Water envisages that the agreement will be awarded for an initial term of 5 years with options to extend up to a maximum duration of 8 years.

The utility is looking to appoint up to ten suppliers to the framework agreement – all suppliers must complete a pre-qualification questionnaire.

https://www.waterbriefing.org/home/contracts/item/14344-thames-water-tenders-%C2%A315m-plus-laboratory-services-framework-contract 

The world’s first ethical guidelines for driverless cars

Humans before animals and property. No discrimination as to who should survive. Safeguards against malicious hacking.

These are just some of the world-first ethical rules being implemented in Germany regarding how autonomous vehicles are to be programmed.

The federal transport minister Alexander Dobrindt presented a report on automated driving to Germany’s cabinet last month. The report is the work of an Ethics Commission on Automated Driving, an expert panel of scientists and legal experts.

The report notes the technological advances being made to increase automation in cars to make them safer and reduce accidents, but it adds:

“Nevertheless, at the level of what is technologically possible today, it will not be possible to prevent accidents completely. This makes it essential that decisions be taken when programming the software of conditionally and highly automated driving systems.”

The report lists 20 guidelines for the motor industry to consider in the development of any automated driving systems. The minister says that cabinet has adopted the guidelines, making it the first government in the world to do so.

The report allows German car makers to maintain their technological lead, setting a strong example for the rest of the world to follow.

Automated driving is safer

The moral foundation of the report is simple – since self-driving vehicles will cause fewer human deaths and injuries, there is a moral imperative to use such systems since governments have a duty of care for their citizens.

So what are some of the situations the report considers?

If an accident cannot be avoided, the report say human safety must take precedence over animals and property. The software must try to avoid a collision altogether, but if that’s not possible, it should take the action that does least harm to people.

The report also recognises that some decisions could be too morally ambiguous for the software to resolve.

In these cases, the ultimate decision and responsibility, at least for now, must be with the human sitting in the driver’s seat, as control is swiftly transferred to them. If they fail to act, the vehicle simply tries to stop. In the near future, as capability improves, vehicles might well become fully autonomous.

It’s acknowledged that no system is perfect. If harmful outcomes cannot be reduced to zero, at least it will be below the current human level.

If a collision is unavoidable, the report say systems must aim for harm minimisation. There must be no discrimination on the basis of age, gender, race, physical attributes or anything else of any potential accident victim.

All humans are considered equal for the purposes of harm minimisation.

This makes the famed Trolley Dilemma irrelevant in as much as the software is not allowed to prioritise an individual’s relative worth.

Who is in control?

The report mentions the possibility of fully autonomous systems, but recognises that the technology is not yet capable of solving tricky “dilemma situations” in which the vehicle has to decide between the lesser of two evils. As the technology becomes sufficiently mature, full autonomy will be possible.

According to the report, at all times it must be known who is driving – human or computer. Perhaps by means of scanning their license, everyone who drives a vehicle must first be validated as being legally qualified to drive that class of vehicle.

The vehicle should have an aviation-style “Black Box” that continuously records events, including who or what is in control at any given time.

In the event of an accident involving an autonomous vehicle, an investigation should be carried out by an independent federal agency to determine liability.

The driver of a vehicle retains their rights over the personal information collected from that vehicle. Use of this data by third parties must be with the owner’s informed consent and with no harm resulting.

The threat of malicious hacking any autonomous driving system must be mitigated by effective safeguards. Software should be designed with a level of security that makes malicious hacking exceedingly unlikely.

As for the set-up of a vehicle’s controls, they must remain ergonomically optimal for human use, as they are in a conventional car.

The vehicle can react autonomously in an emergency, but the human may take over in morally ambiguous situations. The controls should be designed to smoothly and quickly make the transfer.

The report says the public must be made aware of the principles upon which autonomous vehicles operate, including the rationale behind any of those principles. This should be incorporated into school curriculums so that people understand both the how and why of autonomous vehicles.

A good start, but a work-in-progress

The guidelines will be reviewed after two years of use. Doubtless there will be fine tuning in the light of experience, in this the first of many reviews in the years and decades to come.

The guidelines are solidly reasoned and comprehensive enough to provide a legal basis for German car-makers to move forward with their plans.

Since other countries appear to have taken a wait and see position on such legislation, they may well decide to follow Germany’s example, and not for the first time. This would be no bad thing, since a piecemeal approach from one country to the next would be in no-one’s interests.

http://www.highwaysindustry.com/the-worlds-first-ethical-guidelines-for-driverless-cars/ 

Order issued for land purchase in and around Newport Docks and Pill area for M4 relief road

Cornwall floods leave motorists trapped in vehicles

Environment Agency sets out options for £5m+ Guildford flood scheme

The Environment  Agency has published a paper setting out the possible options for the proposed £5 million-plus Guildford flood alleviation scheme.

Guildford has a history of flooding, most recently in December 2013 when 92 properties were recorded to have flooded. The town also experienced flooding in 2000, when 29 properties were flooded, and significantly in 1968 when significant parts of the town were flooded.

There are currently 203 residential properties and 133 commercial properties in Guildford town Centre at a 1% or higher annual risk of flooding. The figure is predicted to rise in future with the predicted effects of climate change. Major roads, railway lines and businesses could also be affected by flooding.

Guildford is also affected by surface water flooding with water from heavy and persistent rainfall running off land and hard surfaces, and particularly the steep slopes of the town leading down to the River Wey at the valley bottom.

Since the winter 2013 to 2014 floods, the Environment Agency project team has been working with partners including Surrey County Council, Guildford Borough Council, Thames Water, M3 Enterprise Local Enterprise Partnership, Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, the National Flood Forum and the Guildford Flood Action Group, to develop a scheme.

The Agency and Surrey County Council are working in partnership to ensure that options on reducing the risk of flooding from surface water flooding are included within the design approach.

The proposals under consideration will address flood risk in Guildford both directly from the river and indirectly from overwhelmed surcharged local drainage systems.

Investigations have confirmed that a combination of permanent and temporary flood defence walls will bring significant flood-relief benefits to parts of Guildford town Centre. However, the flood plain will still play an important role in managing flood risk in Guildford.

TheAgency said the Guildford project team is working to reduce flood risk, not to transfer it from one place to another. The scheme will be designed to ensure that flood risk to communities both upstream and downstream does not increase.

Over the summer, the Environment Agency is developing designs for different options for flood walls and barriers, including different routes and construction approaches.

Partnership funded still needed for before scheme gets go-ahead

The current projected cost of the scheme is approximately £5.6 million and will involve a mixture of funding from central government, the M3 Enterprise Local Enterprise Partnership, Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and local councils.

However, the Environment Agency said further contributions will still be needed to enable construction – the project team is looking to work in partnership with developers, other risk management authorities, infrastructure operators and existing businesses and groups.

Sufficient partnership funds for the scheme will have to be secured before the scheme can start developing detailed designs and construction. Work is ongoing to seek funding from a combination of partners involved with the project including Surrey County Council, Guildford Borough Council, Thames Water, the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, as well as those development sites potentially benefiting from the work.

Provided the scheme is fully approved and funded, the earliest work can be expected to start is winter 2018. Construction is expected to be completed by 2020.

£300 million road projects to improve journeys in Merseyside and Cheshire

Two major new road schemes worth more than £300 million are set to cut congestion and improve journey times for hundreds of thousands of drivers in Merseyside and Cheshire.

Highways England has set out its preferred options for upgrading the key route to the Port of Liverpool and creating a new junction on the M56 near Runcorn following public consultations earlier this year.

A new 3-mile dual carriageway between the motorway network and the port will take freight away from residential areas on the A5036, which has been identified as being the tenth most congested road in England.

The bypass will serve the existing port as well as the new £300 million deep-water container terminal, which is expected to triple the port’s volume of goods by 2030.

The new junction 11a on the M56 will also play a vital role in supporting the region’s economy by providing a new link to the Mersey Gateway bridge between Runcorn and Widnes, and improving local access to the motorway.

Tim Gamon, Highways England’s regional delivery director for the North West, said:

“Both these major road schemes will help to bring significant economic benefits to the North West and we’re now at the stage where we can set out our preferred options for the projects.

“The new bypass will take the existing traffic away from the A5036 as well as managing the significant increase in vehicle numbers that are anticipated with the port’s growth. We’re also committed to making improvements to the existing A5036 as part of the scheme that will benefit people who live and work in the area.

“The new junction on the M56 will also benefit local residents by taking traffic away from residential areas as well as providing a new route to the Mersey Gateway bridge – an important new link between Cheshire and Merseyside.”

The new £250 million dual carriageway bypass through the Rimrose Valley will connect Princess Way to Broom’s Cross Road

A new roundabout, controlled by traffic lights, will also be built at the junction connecting Broom’s Cross Road, Brickwall Lane and the new bypass. And Broom’s Cross Road will be upgraded to a dual carriageway from the new roundabout to Switch Island, where the A5036 connects with the M57 and M58.

The new £60 million M56 junction will be built between junctions 11 and 12, and will provide a more direct route to the M56 from south Runcorn as well as connecting to the Mersey Gateway bridge.

The junction will link to a new crossroads for the A533 Southern Expressway and Murdishaw Avenue, north of the motorway. The crossroads will replace the existing roundabout and be controlled by traffic lights, which will use sensors in the road to respond to changes in traffic levels.

Detailed designs for both major road projects will now be developed, with construction work due to start by spring 2020.

Funding for the schemes is being provided as part of the government’s £15 billion Road Investment Strategy (RIS), and will help boost the Northern Powerhouse by improving transport connectivity and reliability to help the economy of the North.

http://www.highwaysindustry.com/300-million-road-projects-to-improve-journeys-in-merseyside-and-cheshire/

World Water Week: prizewinning project has potential to revolutionize future of water quality

The prize winning project of this year’s Stockholm Junior Water Prize has developed a unique method to identify, quantify and control water contaminants with the potential to revolutionize the future of water quality worldwide.

Two students from the USA, Ryan Thorpe and Rachel Chang, received the 2017 Stockholm Junior Water Prize on Tuesday for their novel approach to detect and purify water contaminated with Shigella, E. coli, Salmonella, and Cholera.

In its citation, the Jury said:

“This year’s winning project embodies the fundamental principle of providing safe drinking water. The winner’s motivation is to eliminate millions of human deaths each year. The project developed a unique, rapid, and sensitive method to identify, quantify and control water contaminants.”

The students constructed a system that detects and purifies water contaminated with Shigella, E. coli, Salmonella, and Cholera more rapidly and sensitively than conventional methods. Their system detects as little as one reproductive bacteria colony per litre instantaneously and eliminates bacterial presence in approximately ten seconds.

In contrast, conventional methods have detection limits of up to 1000 colonies and take one to two days. The students’ novel approach could prevent the contraction and outbreak of waterborne diseases and expand potable water throughout the world.

“This method is applicable to both developed and developing world. The winning project has used fundamental science in an elegant way to address pathogenic bacteria in drinking water. The project has the potential to revolutionize the future of water quality,” the Jury said.

Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of SIWI commented:

“This is a very inspiring project that takes on one of the world’s biggest challenges, providing clean drinking water for all. Methods like these can unlock huge human potential, when access to safe drinking water, and by extension health, improves among hundreds of millions of people.”

The Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition brings together the world’s brightest young scientists to encourage their continued interest in water and the environment. Teams from 33 countries competed in the 2017 finals.

H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden presented the prize at a ceremony yesterday during World Water Week in Stockholm.

 

An engineering marvel! How the Queensferry Crossing became the UK’s tallest bridge