Thames estuary aerial view of Foster airportSource: Foster & Partners
Norman Foster has revealed plans for a radical overhaul of the UK’s infrastructure provision built around a major transport hub in the Thames Estuary.
Foster & Partners and Halcrow have produced a comprehensive study of Britain’s infrastructure requirements and how they might be met.
Plans for a Thames Hub have been trailed previously, but the report also contains suggestions including an infrastructure “spine” running the length of the UK. This would run parallel to a high-speed rail line and involve burying water, data and energy lines in soil excavated for the railway, providing a visual barrier in the process.
The Thames Hub proposals are also fleshed out in more detail. An international airport is proposed on the Isle of Grain in the Thames Estuary next to a new river barrage, with rail, road and shipping networks extending around the UK.
An orbital rail link would be built around London, tracing the existing line of the M25. The report claims that such a project could remove 4,000 lorries a day from the motorway and reduce rail journeys across the capital by an hour.
High-speed rail would connect London to cities in the north, as well as providing links to ports in Felixstowe, Tilbury and Southampton in an attempt to shift freight distribution to the rail network and relieve pressure from Britain’s roads.
The report has been funded by Foster & Partners with Halcrow and economics consultancy Volterra Partners. There is as yet no suggestion that any of the proposals will be adopted by the government.
However, the report does suggest ways in which the plans might be paid for. The authors acknowledge the lack of public money available and suggest private sector funding models using capital from investors such as sovereign wealth funds.
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