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The Cross Rail Project

Monday, September 22, 2014
by Geoff Riley

These are summary notes taken from a talk given by Andrew Wolstenholme the CEO of CrossRail to a meeting of the Eton College Geography Society on Monday 22nd September 2014

  1. Infrastructure has gone from the loss account to the profit account in British politics in recent years
  2. Increasing recognition that the skills, expertise, capabilities brought to bear in delivering major projects will help to support the regeneration of high value-added manufacturing in the UK
  3. There is now a much deeper understanding of the links between modern infrastructure and global competitiveness 
  4. HS1 was built twenty years ago - giving a fast Channel Tunnel link through the South - £4.7bn
  5. Heathrow Terminal 5 £4.3bn
  6. London 2012 including the Olympic Park - £8bn 
  7. CrossRail £14.8bn (currently on time and under budget)

All part of the National Infrastructure Plan which contains 40 priority projects with more than £370bn of work in the pipeline

Cross Rail provides

Funding - Who pays? Who benefits?

Wider Economic and Environmental Gains

  1. Reduction in train noise
  2. Improved station energy consumption
  3. Nature reserves created, more than 3120m spent creating neighbourhoods in and around new CrossRail stations
  4. Lightweight trains using regenerative braking
  5. New spaces for artists, new theatres and community spaces
  6. 55,000 jobs supported directly by the project
  7. Enough new housing development to fill 16 Shards
  8. More than 400 apprentices

CrossRail is now the 5th biggest property company in the UK - an output of building smart infrastructure

Progress - Scale and Complexity - some quotes from the talk

"CrossRail has set new standards and new benchmarks for how major infrastructural projects will be completed in the future"

83% of tunnels already constructed, over 36km

Each of the assets in the project has a minimum of 30 years active use in the life cycle

CrossRail has completely mapped the underground of London using more than 450 digital maps - it took two years to understand what is under the city!

The human capital involved in the project is vast - the starkest manifestation of the importance of know-how in building and sustaining competitiveness

The length of the project covers a geographical area where the variance of wealth is extremely high - Cross Rail focused on heightening the social and economic returns for eastern London

HS2 - £15bn to double capacity on the north-south route - in 20 years time we will laugh at ourselves if we have not spent the money on developing this incremental capacity through the HS2 project. China is building the equivalent of 4 HS2 projects every year.

Different schools of Economic thought

by Tom White

Hopefully Economics keeps moving forwards, with new ideas enriching the subject in schools and universities. You may be aware that there is a ‘post-crash economics’ debate out there, with people wondering how economists got things so wrong in the lead up to the crash.

I was lost for words when I met Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang recently. Partly I was a bit star struck, but mainly it was because I was so impressed by his plea: can’t we draw on more sources of inspiration than the neo-classical school of economics which has come to dominate the subject?

I don’t want to describe all these schools of economics now (I summarised an article on Minsky a while ago however). And you will have heard about Karl Marx (and if you haven’t, you should). Few people will get to the end of their economics course without coming across Keynes, and you may even know a bit about Hayek (and even seen them fight it out in a rap battle). My students will be doing a bit of behavioural economics soon. They will also come across some ideas from the Developmentalist and Institutionalist traditions when we look at development economics.

The purpose of my blog is to encourage you to explore some of these rival worldviews, which Ha-Joon does very effectively in his book Economics: The User’s Guide. It’s a terrific way for top flight candidates to draw out high level evaluation marks, by arguing that different approaches in economics might recommend different solutions to problems, for instance.

It’s also worth noting that traditional ‘A’ level Economics allows scope to look more widely across the subject than is possible on many degree courses! Students shouldn’t be put off studying Economics at degree level because they are told “it’s all maths” and dominated by abstract theorising that many ‘A’ level candidates find a turn-off after the excitement of their introduction to the subject. Be on the lookout for alternative views when you make your applications.

I’ve copied out a summary of these different views from Economics: The Users’ Guide: Comparing_different_schools_of_Economics.docx. The shaded boxes have been added by me to show my students which bits they are likely to encounter on their AS/A2 course.

Year 13 Economics in the Citi Day!

by Geoff Riley

Here is a great enrichment opportunity for Y13 Economists, especially those looking to take the subject to university or considering a career in Finance. In association with our good friend Stuart Block from "Beyond the Bike", we are launching an interactive day for students including:

Places for this event on the 13th of November are limited to 6 students per school with a maximum of 12 schools. Please contact Geoff Riley (g.riley@etoncollege.org.uk) to register your interest.

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