A fresh look at major infrastructure project delivery


In their recent insight, Amey shares that over the last few years, major infrastructure projects in the UK have been delayed, changed in scope, or cancelled entirely. Ultimately, these delays drive up costs for the taxpayer, deter investment and harm the UK’s global reputation as a place to do business.

There is no shortage of guidance on how to achieve best practice in the development and delivery of major infrastructure projects. Each year, at least one major guide is produced by government or industry bodies, whilst universities and practitioners publish scores of articles on the subject. Yet, despite the overwhelming output of advice, we continue to struggle to deliver projects to time, budget or desired quality. And the larger or more complex the project, the greater the problem.

Amey further shares, as an example, two of the most recent major rail projects in the UK have experienced well documented problems. Crossrail was delivered three years late and £3.4bn over budget, while HS2 was criticised by the National Audit Office for Euston Station plans that are currently forecast as being almost double the proposed budget. The construction of Euston, having commenced before a workable solution was produced, has now been paused.Project failings are not just limited to design, construction, and cost management. Amey’s research estimates that over 90% of major projects fail to deliver their projected benefits, whilst cost-benefit analyses also consistently over-estimate the benefits. We routinely over-estimate benefits that projects are expected to deliver and this effectively means that the business cases upon which most major projects are based are inherently flawed.

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