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Calling a fault

Basis of the relationship between a contractor and RLE is that it is the contractor's job to construct the works in an agreed way to RLE's design and to certify that this has been done. RLE's field engineering team audits the contractor's systems but has a more hands-off role.

'We stand behind and observe, ' says RLE's project manager on Contract 420, Terry Rawnsley.

Self certification involves the contractor working under a contract Quality Plan and agreeing with RLE the programme and work method for each activity. Compliance with the specification is controlled by the use of Inspection & Test Plans.

Contract 430 RLE contract manager Alasdair Cathcart acknowledges that it can seem a bureaucratic system, but he says it is based on Bechtel's experience worldwide and works well.

The Inspection & Test Plan is a document which sets out details of the tests, inspections, acceptance criteria and records required. It can be used for signing off that works have reached a certain stage and becomes a key part of the as-built records.

The Inspection & Test Plan

Representatives of other parties, which might include Babtie looking after Kent County Council's roads, will be required to certify crucial stages of side roads earthworks.

The document is a working tool and 'meant to get muddy' says Rawnsley.

Central to the self certification process is the Non Conformance Report. NCRs must be lodged by the contractor whenever he discovers the work is not in accordance with the specification.

Examples are materials failures such as under strength concrete cubes or piles found to be significantly out of position.

Providing an NCR is lodged within an agreed period the contractor will get paid the actual cost for putting the work right.

But if the contractor carries out substandard work, fails to lodge an NCR within the agreed time and the faults are then discovered by RLE, the contractor has to make good the faults entirely at his own cost.

The payment to the contractor is not an encouragement to carry out substandard work in the first place since there is a penalty.

The additional payment pushes up the total that has been spent and will at the end of the job be compared with the target cost. Effectively the contractor is paying out 25% of the cost of the repairs.

Rob Holden chief executive, London & Continental Railways 'We are now a very small team in LCR, just five of us and (secretary) Carole. But we are pivotal. We facilitate the other parties.'

Forty three year old accountant Rob Holden joined LCR in October 1996 as finance director. Previously he was finance director at the Barrow in Furness shipyard. He started there in 1983 when it was owned by British Shipbuilders and he was involved in the management buyout of the company, which became VSEL and was later bought by GEC.

'I stayed with GEC 18 months before I came on here, ' he recalls. With former chairman Derek Hornby and Adam Mills, Holden was part of the delegation which went to see Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott early in January 1998 to explain that LCR could not raise the funding for CTRL. The other two subsequently left LCR and Holden became chief operating officer under executive chairman John Neerhout Jnr during the intense period of negotiation that followed.

'I think at that stage we had just about every law firm in London acting for someone. We'd signed about 150 agreements in the end.'

Holden has a reputation for being dour.

He says: 'I tend to err on the pessimistic side of optimism.'

Rab Brown RLE project manager, Section One 'Although I can be an in your face person, I'm determined to make partnering work on Section One of the CTRL, ' says Rab Brown.

Halcrow director Brown's task is to lead the business of encouraging and cajoling RLE's contractors to deliver Section One ahead of schedule and within budget.

Big projects worldwide are his metier.

Orange Fish Tunnel - 'the world's longest irrigation tunnel, 80km long and almost straight except that it follows the Earth's curvature'; Dubai drydock - 'Costain/Taylor Woodrow did a great job, slipforming the 30m long, 17m wide and 13m high caissons which formed the dock walls'; Kotmale hydroelectric plant, Sri Lanka - 'a huge underground complex'; a hydro tunnel in Papua New Guinea - 'the first TBM in the country'; Channel Tunnel, first as the UK tunnels resident engineer for Maitre d'Oeuvre and then Eurotunnel's deputy project construction manager for the UK tunnels responsible for the Shakespeare Cliff NATM development and the sea walls - 'the biggest along the south coast'.

After nine months as construction adviser in the Phillipines on the duplication of Manila's water and drainage schemes, Brown left Halcrow for an assignment in South Island New Zealand resolving the landslip problems at the infamous Clyde power project. He took his team on a world tour to view the after effects of dam failures at Vaiont and Mica.

It gave them a clear perspective of what could happen if the job was not sorted properly.

At university, enthusiasm for the sports field had helped delay Brown's graduation until he was 25. His early jobs were with Mitchell Construction and Foraky.

After graduation Brown followed the money in 1970 to Lewis & Duvivier, which offered him £250 a year more than the going rate of £1,250. He joined Halcrow 'On 13 December 1972, the day the All Blacks beat Glasgow and Edinburgh Inter-Cities'.

Chris Jago Managing director Union Railways (South) Chris Jago has the air of someone in a hurry with all the crucial project details at his fingertips. This first impression of Railtrack's man in charge of CTRL Section One is reinforced by his large corner office and glass topped boardroom table on the executive floor at 106 Tottenham Court Road.

In effect everyone employed on the line from Cheriton to Fawkham Junction is working for him, whether they are holding a broom or a board meeting. He kicks off by emphasising the environmental initiatives being taken on the Rail Link and that he has recently signed approval for buying '£30.75M worth of grass seed'.

It is Jago's job to make sure that Railtrack gets the product that it wants from the deal with Government. And it is soon apparent that his grasp for detail is concentrated on a mind's eye view of what the railway will be like when it is complete and running- not to Fawkham Junction and the crawl to Waterloo, but to St Pancras and the rest of Railtrack's network.

'The sooner Railtrack can get involved in Section Two the better, ' he says with relish. 'What we are building in isolation does not make sense.' But for the moment Jago does not' dabble' in Section Two.

That remains Walt Bell's responsibility at Union Railways (North) until Railtrack decides whether to exercise its option.

Railtrack's decision will take into account the timing and outcome of the rail regulator's review.

But there is a very close working relationship between the teams. 'It's all about the total CTRL, ' summarises Jago.

He started on the railways 34 years ago (with a first real job) as assistant station manager for Sevenoaks. He moved to be station manager at Charing Cross then through BR's operations and business management to become director of the Southern zone before taking charge of URS.

Eye on progress

Government has a substantial interest in the satisfactory outcome of the CTRL and employs its own 'project representative and technical adviser' to keep an eye on things for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

'This consultant is a joint venture - Mott Parsons Gibb - usually abbreviated to MPG. It is brief in its public comments on the project. 'We like to take a low profile, ' is how the JV's leader Hugh Norie puts it.

MPG is responsible for reporting back on all technical, engineering and project management issues, giving regular progress reports.

It appears to be a role that becomes very interesting should things not go to plan. A prime function of MPG is to help protect the Deputy Prime Minister's interests in the project and to ensure that his obligations to Parliament are discharged. DETR also has separate financial and legal agents overseeing the project.

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