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Civil engineering orders slumped in September 2023 according to the CIPS/S&P UK Construction Purchasing Manager’s Index, but there was a more positive picture across the third quarter of this year.

Glenigan’s own index shows an upturn compared to the second quarter of this year, driven by infrastructure work.

The overall value of civil engineering work at an underlying level (schemes below £100 million) starting on site in the third quarter of this year rose by 8% against Q2 2023. Although utilities work declined 32% on the three months to June 2023, there was a 48% leap in infrastructure starts to produce an overall rise in civil engineering work with more to come.

Glenigan’s construction market intelligence shows that there are 80,207 underlying infrastructure projects due to start on-site in the 12 months from 17 October 2023 to 17 October 2024.

Road to recovery

A host of major infrastructure schemes are coming through the pipeline and set to boost workloads through the launch of the Government’s new £36 billion Network North programme (Project ID: 23317633).

Coming after the government cancelled the northern leg of HS2, Network North will fund schemes such as the £38.5 million A509 Isham Bypass in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire (Project ID: 94282870). With funding now guaranteed, joint clients North Northamptonshire Council and West Northamptonshire Council could start work next spring according to Glenigan’s construction industry research.

A £23 million plan for a link road from the junction of the M58/M6 to the A49 in Wigan – known as the Wigan East-West route – will also benefit from Network North funds and could commence next May (Project ID: 23317633).

A £35 million link road in Cumbria, the Kendal Northern Access Route, now also has funding and has a provisional start date of next summer (Project ID: 94284522).

Southern roads

Highways schemes in southern England – and outside the Network North programme – are also progressing. A decision on a contractor is imminent for phases 4-5 of a £31.9 million dualling of the A350 in Wiltshire with work scheduled to begin in February (Project ID: 22381183).

In Cornwall, design work is underway for a £38 million tunnel on the A38 with a start on site provisionally expected next March according to Glenigan’s data.

Rail plans

In the rail sector, construction of a £20 million new station at Lowfields near Calderdale in West Yorkshire should commence before the end of this year (Project ID: 19163735).

Elsewhere, tenders have been returned for a £45 million digital signal technology programme originating in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and due to begin in February next year (Project ID: 18406666), while detailed plans have been submitted for a £13.1 million new station at Edginswell in Torquay with a start scheduled for April 2024 (Project ID: 23239859).

Utilities rebound

The utilities sector has not matched infrastructure work because the last phase of spending is drawing to a close but procurement for the next round is underway and should soon buoy workloads.

Tenders will be returned to Northumbrian Water on November 10 for its £4.5 billion framework, which is expected to start in April 2024 (Project ID: 23130903), while contractors are expected to be invited to bid next month for Affinity Water’s £900 million framework (Project ID: 23320546). Both should begin next spring.

With work coming on stream from a variety of sources, a sustained uptick in civil engineering work should come soon.

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