At the APM Programme Management conference last year, there was a tremendous presentation from one of the grandees of major infrastructure programmes and projects in the UK. He outlined how politics were and have been at the root cause of the degeneration of the UK infrastructure over many generations.
I had always thought of the Victorian era as our golden age. I was disappointed to find out that most of the investment was by entrepreneurs rather than our government, and most of them ended up broke as a result of the altruism. Therefore, the only people making money out of infrastructure appeared to be the builders.
The golden age of UK infrastructure investment was the 50’s and 60’s – an era pre-dawn of Thatcherism. That was when big decisions and actions were taken on motorways, power stations, schools and infrastructure. It is the period we remember for the demise of railways and not much else, so history has been very unkind to that generation.
It was also an era of nationalised industries and high levels of government controlled investment. Apparently the countries that have the highest levels of infrastructure investment tend to be a little light on the democracy side of things, hence the conclusion that democracy is killing our infrastructure.
By chance I have come across this excellent youtube video which looks at mega project failure and provides an interesting insight by Michael Hobbs into a major tunnel project in Seattle
I hope you enjoy it