Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has launched an ‘Acceleration Unit’, made up of a team of specialists, to tackle delays to transport infrastructure projects.
Alongside the Acceleration Unit, the Transport Secretary announced around £360m of investment to "build back better from Covid-19".
The unit, which is set to be in place next month and will be directly accountable to the Transport Secretary, will be led by Darren Shirley, currently chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport and formerly of Which? Magazine.
The Acceleration Unit will engage experts with experience in delivering infrastructure projects, including Chris Taylor, Highways England’s director of complex infrastructure projects, who oversaw the construction of the £1.5 billion A14 scheme on budget and eight months ahead of schedule, and Mark Reynolds of MACE, who oversaw the construction of the Nightingale hospital in East London in nine days.
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.”
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 creation of the team follows the establishment of a new Northern Transport Acceleration Council, dedicated to levelling up infrastructure across the north’s towns and cities, forming a direct link between Westminster and local leaders.