Firms doubt key infrastructure clients have capacity to deliver

Aaron Morby 5 years ago

Around three quarters of infrastructure providers doubt whether Network Rail and Highways England have the capacity to deliver their massive investment programmes.

Growing concern about resources at the key transport clients emerged in a CBI/AECOM survey of businesses in the UK.

The survey also revealed that most UK businesses were positive about the clear prioritisation of infrastructure over the last five years – and were seeing the benefits.

But confidence that overall infrastructure would improve in the coming five years has dropped from 43% to 27% since last year among 728 firms surveyed.

Around one in 10 of the surveyed firms were infrastructure providers. Most saw significant challenges in procuring and project managing the £15bn Road Investment Strategy.

While Highways England was largely recognised to have had a positive start, bringing in external expertise to upscale operations, 71% of providers operating in the road sector were not confident in their capacity to deliver the RIS.

Teething problems around the equitable award of contracts under the Collaborative Delivery Framework have weakened confidence.

The survey report said that with the framework forecast to exceed its notional value threshold two years earlier than expected, the industry now faced fresh tendering costs at a time when many firms remained uncertain around the effectiveness of Highways England’s procurement strategy.

Around half these firm’s warned the supply side also lacked the capacity.

Just over two years into the rail industry’s Control Period 5 spending period, half those operating in the rail sector said that they were unhappy with the delivery of the programme so far.

Network Rail’s capacity to deliver the rest of CP5 was in doubt among 74% of these firms, but only a third operating in the sector were satisfied the industry has the capacity to deliver the upgrades in the coming years.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “Firms give the Government a good report card on infrastructure, and are pleased with its commitment in recent years to put infrastructure at the heart of its long-term economic agenda.

“But announcements and commitments are one thing. Seeing tarmac, tracks, and super-fast internet cables being laid is another.

“It isn’t right that nearly one in two firms are dissatisfied with their region’s infrastructure, or that confidence in the future is running low, especially when it comes to delivery, the key piece of the infrastructure puzzle.

“So, our message is a simple one: at the end of the day, delivery is what matters.”

She added: “Firms are ready and willing to work with the Government to develop the skills and capacity to deliver on plans.”

Top three priority regional infrastructure projects



  • Tackle congestion, increasing capacity and improving journey times on M62 and M6 – 92% say critical
  • Deliver HS3 (east-west rail link connecting Manchester and Leeds) to decrease journey times – 69% say critical
  • Deliver extra rail capacity and regional connectivity such as building the Ordsall Chord rail link to Manchester stations – 55% say critical


  • Dualling of A1 at Newcastle up to Scotland – 42% say critical
  • Deliver more domestic flight connections to the UK – 38% say critical
  • Deliver HS3 (east-west rail link connecting Manchester and Leeds) to decrease journey times – 34% say critical


  • Tackle congestion by increasing capacity and on the M62 and M1 – 36% say critical
  • Deliver HS3 (east-west rail link connecting Manchester and Leeds) – 24% say critical
  • Deliver extra rail capacity and regional connectivity in Leeds – 68% say important


  • Tackle congestion, increasing capacity and improving journey times on the M6 – 86% say critical
  • Ease congestion on the M42 at junction 6 near Solihull – 81% say critical
  • Tackle congestion, increasing capacity and improving journey times on M6 between Junctions 13 at Stafford and 15 at Stoke – 69% say critical


  • Delivering new capacity at the M1/M6 Junction near Rugby to reduce congestion – 25% say critical
  • Improving transport access to airports in the Midlands – 24% say critical
  • Improvements to the A38 Derby junctions to reduce congestion – 13% say critical


  • Deliver the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon, reducing congestion and improving access to Felixstowe Port – 48% say critical
  • Upgrade to the Ely North rail junction to remove bottlenecks across East Anglia – 45% say critical
  • Upgrade to the London Liverpool Street – Norwich line to reduce journey times to 90 minutes – 19% say critical


  • Better access to the south-east airports – 35% say critical
  • Support short-term solutions to increase airport capacity in the south east’s, such as building infrastructure at London City Airport – 34% say critical (this has got the go ahead since)
  • Redevelop Waterloo to increase capacity and ease congestion – 28% say critical


  • Crossrail 2 in order to improve transport in and around London – 36% say critical
  • Tackle congestion, increasing capacity and improving journey times on the M4 between London and the south west – 26% say critical
  • Tackle congestion, increasing capacity and improving journey times on the M3 between London and the South Coast – 25% say critical


  • Electrifying the Great Western rail to increase capacity between London and the south west – 51% say critical
  • Transforming the A303/A30/A358 Corridor to Land’s End into an expressway – 43% say critical
  • Improve transport access to the south west’s airports – 32% say critical


  • Address growing congestion on M4 around Brynglas Tunnels in Newport – 76% say critical
  • Electrify the Great Western Main Line throughout south Wales to increase capacity – 43% say critical
  • Improve domestic flight connections from Cardiff Airport – 22% say critical


  • Electrify the Edinburgh-Glasgow rail network to decrease journey times, increase reliance and improve rail links – 42% say critical
  • Complete the improvements to the A9, Perth to Inverness route to improve journey times, capacity and boost tourism – 37% say critical
  • Deliver the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route to improve travel in and around Aberdeen and the north east of Scotland – 40% say critical


  • Deliver second north/south energy interconnector to secure energy resilience – 87% say critical
  • Deliver more domestic flight connections to the rest of the UK – 54% say critical
  • Deliver A6 dual carriageway upgrade schemes from Belfast to Derry/Londonderry – 51% say critical

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