Last tunnel deals awarded early by Crossrail

13 April 2011

13 April 2011 | Angeline Albert 

Buyers at Crossrail have managed to award the final two tunnel contracts for Europe’s largest infrastructure project ahead of schedule. 

This month, joint venture Hochtief Construction and J Murphy & Sons won the £190 million deal for work on the Thames tunnel which runs from Plumstead to North Woolwich. A £35 million contract to enlarge the Connaught tunnel, which runs between Royal Victoria Dock and Royal Albert Dock, has been awarded to Vinci Construction UK.

The efforts of Crossrail’s team of 50 buyers resulted in the organisation awarding the contracts earlier than expected. “We've delivered tunnel contracts ahead of schedule,” said Martin Rowark, Crossrail’s head of procurement.

It follows the arranging of four further tunnel deals in December, as previously reported by SM. Tunnelling activity starts later this year.

The massive construction project involves building a rail line through London linking Heathrow Airport and Maidenhead in Berkshire to Shenfield in Essex. In total, almost 30 major contracts are being let during the next 15 months.

Rowark said: “Many of my team made use of their experience gained by working on procurement for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.”

He said they had also learned from Transport for London’s (TfL) experience of buying big capital works. Among other things this included ensuring the market knew what procurement wanted and communicating by sending engagement questionnaires to suppliers.

Crossrail’s purchasing team is particularly involved in buying large logistics capability. As well as tendering for a deal to transport excavated materials to Wallasea Island in Essex to create a wildlife wetlands reserve, buyers are involved in letting signalling systems contracts worth £50-100 million.

In a bid to maintain best value, Rowark added: “We’re looking very closely at inflation drivers. Our contracts will take account of that.”         

At the end of March, Crossrail said it had a contract shortlist for the supply of 60 trains and depot facilities for the rail route. It is expected that this deal will be let in late 2013.

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