RAC REPORT 82 PER CENT INCREASE IN ‘POTHOLE BREAKDOWNS’ plus: TUNNEL BORING MACHINES FOR NORTHERN LINE EXTENSION TO BATTERSEA
RAC REPORT 82 PER CENT INCREASE IN ‘POTHOLE BREAKDOWNS’
Despite the last two winters being relatively mild for much of Britain, analysis of RAC breakdowns has revealed there are signs that Britain’s roads are still not in as good a condition as they should be.
Even though two years have passed since the cold winter of 2013 wreaked havoc on road surfaces up and down the country, the RAC reports that it has seen an 82 per cent increase in the number of suspension spring faults its patrols have been called out to deal with in the first two months of 2015.
In January and February RAC patrols attended nearly 7,500 breakdowns for motorists who had experienced issues with suspension springs – traditionally the single most visible fault that highlights issues with the quality of road surfaces.
In contrast, in the first two months of 2014 there were just over 4,000 suspension spring call-outs and 2013 – the year that gave rise to so many potholes – nearly 5,600.
With the replacement of suspension springs in an average vehicle costing up to £350, the RAC estimates that motorists are potentially facing a combined bill of more than £1 million per month – with the poor state of the UK’s roads largely to blame.
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “When a vehicle’s spring fails it can’t be driven and usually results in a call to us as the owner can’t simply take it to a repairer.
“The problems caused by bad quality road surfaces are not confined to suspension springs either – shock absorbers can be affected, and tyres and wheels potentially damaged.
“The sharp increase in suspension spring faults that we have seen across the country really does cast a cloud on the quality of our roads.
“We will be closely monitoring these figures in the coming months to see whether the trend continues.
“Experience tells us that these problems are normally worse in the first half of the year, so if numbers are still high come the summer we will know that local authorities are still struggling to get on top of the maintenance backlog.”
Knowing the frustration that poor road surfaces cause motorists, the RAC has joined forces with pothole reporting website www.StreetRepairs.co.uk to create the RAC Report Pothole app to make the process of taking action to fix a pothole or other road defect more straightforward and effective.
The app uses your mobile device’s GPS to accurately locate the pothole or a range of other road defects you can select including broken manholes, abandoned vehicles and faulty street lights.
You can add photos and then upload your report which is automatically delivered direct to the roads team of the responsible local authority, or agency in the case of strategic roads and motorways.
Early feedback from users of the RAC Report Pothole app have been positive highlighting that potholes and are being repaired more quickly.
David Bizley added: “Research from the latest RAC Report on Motoring shows that motorists are growing increasingly concerned about the state of the roads, with 41 per cent of those surveyed in 2014 telling us that it is a major issue and two-thirds believing their local roads have been neglected and have deteriorated in condition.
“In addition to highlighting the poor state of our roads we wanted to help motorists do something about getting repairs carried out.
“Reporting a pothole could not be easier as you simply enter the location or use the app’s mapping tool and describe the issue.”
To report a pothole, motorists can visit the RAC website or download the free RAC Report Pothole mobile app for their iPhone or Android smartphone. (Source: RAC press release.)
TUNNEL BORING MACHINES FOR NORTHERN LINE EXTENSION TO BATTERSEA
London Underground (LU) has announced that the contract to design, manufacture and deliver two Tunnel Boring Machines (TBM) that will build the Northern line extension has been awarded to NFM Technologies.
Ferrovial Agroman Laing O’Rourke Joint Venture (FLO), who LU has contracted to design and build the Northern line extension, plans to launch the TBMs in summer 2016, when the machines will begin their seven month 2.5km journey from Battersea to Kennington.
Each TBM “cutting head”, which will do the excavation work, will be just over six metres in diameter and the full machine itself will be 106 metres long – equivalent to the length of the pitch at Wembley Stadium.
Two new stations will be constructed – one at the heart of the Battersea Power Station redevelopment and another at Nine Elms to the east, serving new developments such as the US Embassy and the redevelopment of New Covent Garden Market, as well as existing communities.
The Northern line extension will enable the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea areas to be transformed into a major new commercial and residential district with tens of thousands of new jobs and homes.
Other transport investments in the area include the transformation of the Vauxhall gyratory, the creation of new dedicated cycle routes through the area, and the upgrading of Vauxhall Tube station to include step free access.
Mike Brown MVO, Managing Director of London Underground, said: “The award of this contract is a key milestone in the extension of the Northern line.
“We are well on track for the tunnelling work to commence next year and, once it’s complete, this vital addition to the Underground network will help develop the Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea areas, supporting 24,000 new jobs and over 18,000 new homes.”
Transport for London say customers in Battersea and Nine Elms will also benefit from quicker journey times, with the West End and the City being just under 15 minutes away.
“The cost of the Northern line extension is expected to be up to £1bn, which is being funded entirely through contributions from the developments in the area that will benefit from the extension” added a TfL spokesprson.
“An innovative funding package has been agreed between the Mayor of London and Government, which includes the creation of an Enterprise Zone from 2016 for a period of 25 years.”
As part of its commitment to build the extension in the most environmentally friendly way possible, LU say they plan to transport at least 70 per cent of the waste from the TBM work by river, minimising the number of lorries on the road in connection with the extension. (Source: Transport for London press release.)