Concept designs have been released for a groundbreaking new infrastructure system stretching the length of Great Britain. The self-funded study by architects Foster + Partners, infrastructure consultants Halcrow, and economists Volterra Partners offers a sustainable alternative to travel and communication in the UK, integrating various transport networks into a comprehensive infrastructure system.
Founder of the architecture practice behind the concept, Lord Norman Foster explains: “If we are to establish a modern transport and energy infrastructure in Britain for this century and beyond, we need to recapture the foresight and political courage of our 19th century forebears and draw on our traditions of engineering, design and landscape. If we don’t then we are denying future generations to come.”
The comprehensive report suggests a ‘Spine’ of rail, energy, communications and data running the length of the UK fed by a Thames Hub, which brings together a new river barrier and crossing, an international airport, and a shipping and rail complex. Foster + Partners clarifies: “Recognising the synergies between rail, freight logistics, aviation, energy and its transmission, flood protection and regional development, it reaps the benefits of their integration.”
Through this complex concept design, the collaborative group looks to improve international trade links, create jobs across the UK, balance the economy between the North and South, and modernise the UK’s existing outdated transport network whilst minimising disruption to the environment with a scrupulous environmental management strategy.
Part of this integrated proposal is a new Thames Barrier which expands the floor protection area to London and the Thames Gateway whilst harnessing tidal power to generate carbon-free energy. This sustainable alternative is viewed as a long-term solution to the UK’s ever-increasing residential population.
An Estuary Airport is also on the cards, capable of handling 150 million passengers each year with rail connections to the Thames Estuary Ports, and Southampton, Liverpool, and Felixstowe Ports alongside a four-track, high-speed passenger and freight Orbital Rail route circling England’s capital with links to the Midlands and North, the Thames Estuary ports, High Speed 1, and European networks.