UK transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced the launch of a new Acceleration Unit to facilitate vital rail and road upgrades in an effort to 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 next month and will be directly accountable to the transport secretary. It will be led by Darren Shirley, currently chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport and formerly of Which? Magazine.
Alongside the Acceleration Unit, Shapps announced a raft of ambitious upgrades to Wales’ railways, with £343m 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.”
The Acceleration Unit will also engage experts with experience in delivering infrastructure projects including Highways England’s director of complex infrastructure projects, Chris Taylor, who oversaw the construction of the £1.5bn A14 scheme, and Mark Reynolds, chief executive of Mace, which oversaw the construction of the Nightingale hospital in East London.
The creation of the team follows the establishment of a Northern Transport Acceleration Council, dedicated to levelling-up infrastructure across towns and cities in the north of England, forming a direct link between Westminster and local leaders.