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  6. Lord Foster launches UK infrastructure plan

Lord Foster launches UK infrastructure plan

Lord Foster, chairman and founder of Foster + Partners, has launched ambitious proposals for upgrading Britain’s infrastructure which combine rail, energy, communications and data running the length of the UK.

Dubbed “the Spine”, this would be fed by a Thames Hub, which would bring together a new river barrier and crossing, an international airport, and a shipping and rail complex.

Foster + Partners, infrastructure consultancy Halcrow and economics consultancy Volterra have collaborated on a self-funded study to produce a detailed vision for the Thames Hub.

The main elements comprise:

  • a new barrier crossing that extends flood protection for London and the Thames Gateway into the 22nd century. The barrier harnesses tidal power to generate carbon-free energy
  • a four-track, high-speed passenger and freight Orbital Rail route around London, which links London’s radial lines, a future high-speed rail line to the Midlands and the North, the Thames Estuary ports, High Speed 1 (Channel Tunnel to London), and European networks
  • an Estuary Airport, capable of handling 150 million passengers a year. The airport is integrated within a logistics matrix that connects by rail the Thames Estuary ports and the ports of Liverpool, Southampton and Felixstowe. Associated with the Hub is a major renewable energy source in the Estuary
  • a new utilities and data spine in the Thames Barrier, Orbital Rail line and high-speed networks, with applicability across the UK.

Lord Foster said: “If we are to establish a modern transport and energy infrastructure in Britain for this century and beyond, we need to recapture the foresight and political courage of our 19th century forebears and draw on our traditions of engineering, design and landscape.”

Halcrow group board director, David Kerr, said: “Great challenges require bold solutions, which is why I believe our Thames Hub vision is critical to society and to the country’s economic prosperity. If we don’t sustain and invest in infrastructure, then it’s at our peril. If the UK is to remain globally competitive, these proposals need to be seriously considered.”

Find more about the Thames Hub.

Roger Milne

3 November 2011