London’s TfL reopens major construction projects
London’s government transport body, Transport for London, restarts work on major projects after multiple months of inactivity.
A “phased restart” is set to take place for around 300 sites that Transport for London runs and owns. During the UK’s coronavirus lockdown, all of these sites have had work halted completely, meaning delays are inevitable for each project.
Transport for London’s construction projects ranges from small infrastructure enhancements to some major key projects including the Bank station upgrade and the Northern Line extension.
The Northern Line extension will add a brand new Tube station built into Battersea Power Station which is currently undergoing a complete renovation to rejuvenate the former industrial building.
The Bank upgrade is set to considerably increase capacity at the station.
Whilst the construction sites will all open, most of these will be running at a reduced capacity in order to adhere to social distancing rules that have been put in place by the British government. A distance of two metres will need to be adhered to whilst on site.
A number of new health and safety measures have been put in place including the introduction to staggered shifts and rigorous hygiene procedures.
The news comes as TfL also plans to restart the Thames Clippers service from next week.
Workers for the sites have been encouraged to avoid public transport where possible. Heidi Alexander, London’s deputy mayor for transport stated: “It’s vital that construction workers make journeys to sites on foot or by bike if at all possible in order to keep services safe for those who really need it”
She then went on to say: “If workers have to travel on public transport, I’m pleased that our plans for staggered shifts will help them avoid the busiest times.”
One of London’s largest transport infrastructure projects, Crossrail, has also seen many of its workers return to site, after construction stopped on the 24th of March, a day after the UK announced full lockdown measures.
Crossrail’s Chief Executive, Mark Wild, stated that he aims to have parts of the line open by the middle of next year. He also stressed that he was “completely committed to doing everything we can, notwithstanding the real impact of COVID-19, to meet or beat the schedule that we outlined.”
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France to invest €1.8bn in Egypt’s infrastructure
France will invest a total of €1.8bn into Egypt’s infrastructure focusing specifically on upgrading the Cairo Metro, building a railway to Sudan, and developing water and energy schemes. Officials have called the investment a “major boost to bilateral cooperation”.
The Cairo Metro
Included in the financing is a concessional government loan of around €800mn to upgrade Line 1 of the Cairo Metro, introduced in the 1980s. The financing will pay for 55 trainsets for the line and is provided by the French engineering company, Alstom.
Line 6 is also due to be upgraded using further state-guaranteed loans worth up to €2bn. Bruno Le Maire said that this would be negotiated over the next six months. France and Egypt have worked in close cooperation ever since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi became president in 2014, despite differences over human rights and strong criticism of Egypt by rights activists and some foreign states.
Nine more projects over the next half a decade
A further €1bn from France’s development agency, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), aims to cover a range of other projects over the next half a decade.
These projects include a railway line between Aswan, southern Egypt, and Wadi Halfa in Sudan, as well as several projects in the renewable energy and water purification industries. Bruno Le Maire, France’s Finance Minister, said Egypt was a “strategic partner and commercial dealings with it would be developed. France will substantially increase its direct exposure to Egypt, becoming the first counter-party for government to government loans,” he said.
According to Le Maire, the AFD will also €150mn to support the construction of a universal health insurance programme. French contractors such as Vinci and Bouygues have a long history of working on the Egyptian capital’s underground system.
Talking about the relationship between France And Egypt, Le Maire concluded: “France will substantially increase its direct exposure to Egypt, becoming the first counter-party for government to government loans”.