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

British contractors pay tribute to former Eurotunnel co-chairman

CONTRACTORS involved with construction of the Channel Tunnel expressed sorrow and admiration for former Eurotunnel co-chairman Sir Alastair Morton, who died suddenly last month aged 66.

Morton is widely credited with getting the tunnel built in the face of huge odds.

After joining Eurotunnel in 1997 to head the client's construction team, he waged an almost continuous battle against contractors' claims and cost increases.

But at the same time, his role meant keeping the project's 225 lending banks on board as Eurotunnel struggled to keep the massive £10bn project afloat financially.

In response to this pressure, Morton was renowned for his aggression, bullying tactics and, at times, charm when dealing with the 10 contractors making up the Anglo French Transmanche Link (TML) consortium building the project.

British contractors in the consortium were Balfour Beatty, Costain, Tarmac and Wimpey.

Hard, often bruising confrontations were the norm as Morton sought to keep a lid on cost increases and get the project finished.

'He was very tough and could be an aggressive negotiator, ' recalls former Tarmac chief executive Sir Neville Simms. 'Some people did not like that style but it never really worried me.'

Simms paid tribute to the fact that despite the acrimony, Morton ensured that the contractors made a profit. Others expressed respect for his achievements if not his methods. 'He was very outspoken and did some unethical things, but he got things done, ' said former Wimpey chief executive Joe Dwyer.

Morton later took his tenacity and commitment with him to the Treasury's private finance task force where he helped the Conservatives then New Labour kick-start the Private Finance Initiative.

His spell as chairman of the fledgling Strategic Rail Authority was less distinguished, most likely it appears because of the government's failure to follow up the ambitions of its own transport policy.

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.