UK Project Management Round Up


By Miles Shepherd

Executive Advisor & International Correspondent

Salisbury, England, UK



I got off to a pretty poor start to the New Year and missed my deadline for the January edition so I have a small backlog to clear. This month I want to look at some transportation projects, construction issues, defence capability and energy sector matters, so quite a lot to get through.


The main issues around transport in UK relate to the lack of space for most of the major projects needed so we have more upgrades than blue sky projects. This generates quite a few problems as commuters and others found over the Holiday period where several much needed improvements to major hubs overran their durations and so the commuter capacity was severely affected. The good news is, however, that the work, especially around Reading, has been completed and the lines are all open again. There is an extensive programme of rail improvement in and around London but Manchester and the Midlands also can expect some new work in a series of projects costed at over £10million.

Sticking with the rail industry, the much debated High Speed 2 line continues to spark controversy as the revised route is announced. Press reports in December suggested that the schedule for the northern extension, intended to improve links between Manchester and Leeds may be delayed by up to 3 years. The delay is attributed to escalating costs and problems with Network Rail’s electrification programme. The cost of changes needed to allow electric powered trains to run on the route, rather than diesel, is thought to have escalated well beyond the original estimates.

Experience of similar electrification on the West Coast Mainline has shown that costs can be difficult to forecast. The cost for electrification of the line from London to Swansea has risen from £1 billion to £1.7 billion and the cost of similar work on the line between Bedford and Sheffield has risen from a planned £650 million to over £1 billion. The works programme is the biggest overhaul of the nation’s railway system since Victorian times and involves many major infrastructure projects such as Cross Rail and the electrification of about 2000 miles of track. The overall budget is now in the region of £34 billion and is at the mercy of the Treasury as Network rail’s deficit has been reclassified as a government liability.

Slightly different in character is the issue at the heart of the Great North Western Railway where the route has been blocked. This new operator, owned by Deutche Bahn, would challenge the current monopoly held by Virgin Trains but a decision by the Office of Rail Regulation has blocked the route. Leading to a row involving the Government who are accused of failing to promote competition amongst rail operators. The dispute rumbles on.

From Rail to Road – it is 18 years since the Land Speed Record was broken, there are 3 teams trying to raise the speed from its current 763 mph to over 1000 mph. The British team is led by Richard Noble (left) who is bankrolling the £40 million project which also aims to interest young potential engineers. Andy Green, holder of the current record is the ‘pilot’ for this attempt and is expecting a test run later this year at over 800mph in South Africa.


To read entire report, click here

About the Author 

pmwj29-dec2014-Shepherd-PhotoMILES SHEPHERD flag-uk

Salisbury, UK 

Miles Shepherd is an executive editorial advisor and international correspondent for PM World in the United Kingdom. He is also managing director for MS Projects Ltd, a consulting company supporting various UK and overseas Government agencies, nuclear industry organisations and other businesses. Miles has over 30 years’ experience on a variety of projects in UK, Eastern Europe and Russia. His PM experience includes defence, major IT projects, decommissioning of nuclear reactors, nuclear security, rail and business projects for the UK Government and EU.   Past Chair and Fellow of the Association for Project Management (APM), Miles is also past president and chair of the International Project Management Association (IPMA). He is currently Director of PMI’s Global Accreditation Centre and the Chair of the ISO committee developing new international standards for Project Management and for Program/Portfolio Management. He was involved in setting up APM’s team developing guidelines for project management oversight and governance. Miles is based in Salisbury, England and can be contacted at [email protected].

To view other works by Miles Shepherd, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/miles-shepherd/.