New ‘Acceleration Unit’ aims to speed up post-Covid infrastructure developments

The government has launched a new ‘Acceleration Unit’ designed to speed up road and rail infrastructure upgrades.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed that a team of specialists will join the Department for Transport (DfT) to tackle delays to infrastructure projects.

The unit, which will be in place in September, will be led by Darren Shirley, the chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport.

It has been launched to coincide with £360 million of investment on roads and railways designed to help with economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.

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 added: “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 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 launch of the unit comes ahead of Highways England launching its Strategic Business Plan and Delivery Plan for 2020 to 2025. The documents will outline how it will improve England’s road network based on the government’s Road Investment Strategy 2, which confirmed £27.4 billion of funding.