Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Bringing Crossrail to the people

Crossrail’s corporate affairs director Clinton Leeks has the challenge of making the project a friend to the public.

Crossrail meets the public, rich and poor, in the guise of business owners or residents, all along its route. So good relations with the community have been vital to getting the railway approved by parliament and will be crucial to the smooth running of the construction phase. No one wants to see the job held up because of rows over issues like dust or noise. It’s a question of managing expectations and making sure everyone directly affected by the scheme knows what’s happening, what’s coming up and is not disconcerted by sudden surprises.

Crossrail’s corporate affairs director Clinton Leeks has been in the thick of the community brief as the project made its way to Royal Assent. He is now refocusing his team’s eff orts from negotiation with petitioners in select committee to face to face negotiation with the public as the countdown to demolition and the appearance of large holes in the ground begins. The community team has just completed a 40 day exhibition at 19 venues along the route to show off the benefits that the new railway will bring for passengers, to explain how it will be built and how people will get future updates on the project.

So far, this augers well according to Leeks. "I went along to see what people were saying and asking," he says. "What stood out, and this might sound like me being cheerful but it was real, was that there was a wide measure of support and very little complaining. "People were more interested in the practicalities – what impact should they expect during construction, what should they do if they do have a complaint? And all these issues are what we are paid to think about."

Leeks says that this first series of post Royal Assent meetings was just a starting point in terms of community relations. "We’ll be back at specific points along the works when appropriate. When we have awarded a contract we’ll all turn out, including the contractor, to meet people face to face and give them an extra feeling of engagement. "And it’s not just the principal contractor we’ll be wanting to meet the people. The intention is to engage the supply chain too. "With our contractors, we are looking for understanding of the challenges of delivery of complex projects in an urban environment."

Leeks and his team have been learning from the experience of London’s two previous railway projects – London Underground’s Jubilee Line Extension and the High- Speed 1 (HS1) railway line between London and the Channel Tunnel.

Crossrail has also learned from the previous schemes that getting children involved is a good idea for fostering good community relations and legacy – particularly in terms of employment opportunity. "We are being asked 'how do children get the skills to do worthwhile jobs on the project?'," Leeks says. "We have the Young Crossrail scheme to get kids at school interested in becoming engineers – with information and challenges for children and their teachers from learning about badgers and newts that we’ll encounter on the route to the history of the railways. And if they do want to pursue a career in construction, we have to make sure we do help put them in touch with the right people and make sure they are not just brushed off . It goes with being one of the largest engineering projects in the world."

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.