Transport infrastructure continues to dominate infrastructure sector construction with around 57% of total output for 2019

Infrastructure was the largest non-residential construction sub-sector with an output value of around £23bn in 2019. Transport Infrastructure which includes roads, rail, airports & ports, dominated the sector – of which the rail sector dominates and the roads sector comes in second.

Between 2014 and 2018 contractors output in the transport infrastructure sector was volatile, thanks to annual fluctuations in new roads output and year-on-year fluctuations in rail construction activity, according to the ‘Transport Infrastructure Construction & Refurbishment Market Report – UK 2019-2023’ by AMA Research.

Road construction and maintenance

Road construction and maintenance was mainly driven by the first phase of the 5-year RIS1, as part of the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP).  Under this, funding has been put in for capital enhancement and renewals for the period 2015-16 to 2020-21 with over 100 major schemes to enhance, renew and improve the road network.

Other road schemes are being delivered as part of the multi-modal Transport Strategy for the North, which outlines the strategic options for future transport investment in the north of England to boost the government’s concept of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

Rail construction

Rail output has been driven by a combination of major projects and regional frameworks and an increase in activity under Control Period 5 (CP5), which ended in 2019.

In October 2019, Government published its £10.4bn pipeline of 58 planned rail enhancement projects, which covers both short and long-term projects that could be delivered in the next 5 years, as part of CP6.

Looking ahead, the main threat to rail output is delays to planned project timetables – the most significant is the first phase of HS2 which could now be delayed to between 2028 and 2031 rather than 2026 as was originally planned.

Airports sector

Output growth in the airports sector is expected to be driven by long-term investment programmes at UK airports. There are numerous projects currently in the forward pipeline, with much of the construction being delivered through framework agreements and long-term investment programmes at a number of major UK airports.

These include:

  • Manchester Airport’s 10-year investment programme – where construction is underway on the Terminal Two extension for completion in 2020
  • Gatwick Airport’s £1.2bn programme of works; and
  • Heathrow Airport’s £3.3bn, 5-year capital investment programme.

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