Infrastructure delays cost the UK £48,000 a minute

Rebecca Smith
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Hidden World Of The London Underground Night-Shift Worker
Source: Getty

The nation is being held back by infrastructure delays - and they're proving costly.

A one-month delay in the transport infrastructure pipeline means the UK economy will miss out on around £2bn of investment-related GDP over the next five years – equivalent to £48,425 for each minute of delay.

That’s according to research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) for Arcadis.

Rail was identified as the greatest cause of stalled or cancelled transport infrastructure spend - a one month delay could result in up to £4.2m being added to the total delivery cost of all rail projects for each extra day.

Read more: Businesses look to Autumn Statement for fleshed out infrastructure plan

For London specifically, an average one month delay on current spending plans for the capital's infrastructure would cost £34m - the equivalent of £1.1m each day.

Cebr compared the 2015 and 2016 National Infrastructure Pipeline data sets maintained by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) and calculated estimated costs, such as missed GDP from investment and additional design and build cost, associated with delays and cancellations.

It estimates that over the next five years, the cumulative impact of stalling on projects lined up for 2015-16 could see the UK miss out on up to £35bn of investment-related GDP.

Infrastructure Average delay of one month on current plans Daily equivalent
Rail £1.1bn £36.8m
Roads £396m £13.2m
London £282m £9.4m
Local auth majors £259m £8.6m
Airports (excluding south east expansion to come) £52m £1.7m
Total £2bn £69.7m

Arcadis infrastructure client development director Chris Pike said:

“Clearly, there are a number of reasons for projects not going ahead on schedule but, all too often, stalling could potentially be avoided or, if the impacts were clearly understood, decisions may be taken differently. It is clear that government needs to send a clear message to the world that Britain is open for business by progressing vital infrastructure projects at the earliest opportunity, without compromising safety or security.”

Infrastructure Average delay of one month on current plans Daily equivalent
Rail £126m £4.2m
Roads £35m £1.2m
London £34m £1.1m
Local auth majors £32m £1m
Airports (excluding south east expansion to come) £12m £400,000
Ports £2m £66,000
Total £241m £8m

​The National Audit Office said in January that a third of major government projects due to be delivered in the next five years are in doubt unless action is taken to improve delivery. It has also just warned of the potential cost to taxpayers, should the London Garden Bridge project not reach completion.

Read more: 15 plans for the future of London transport

Delays in overall planned infrastructure spend led to a £6bn loss to GDP for 2015-2016.

At the Conservative Party conference, Philip Hammond pledged to bolster infrastructure after years of under investment.

"Ensuring we have world class infrastructure is vital to maintaining our competitiveness, but it is a very long-term agenda," Hammond said.

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