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Crossrail boss calls for earlier release of disaster data

THE CHIEF executive of the promoter of London's Crossrail project has called on the UK government to help speed up the release of information following construction disasters.

Cross London Rail Links (CLRL) chief executive Norman Haste said: 'In the UK information can take years to emerge.We need government to take action - such as appointing an official investigating engineer as soon as disasters happen - to make sure essential information is available as soon as possible.'

Haste was speaking last month when it was revealed confidential information on the collapse of three uncharted wells in Stratford during work on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link early last year (GE March 03) will be made available to CLRL.

The promoter is anxious to learn the full details of the collapse as it seeks to reassure residents living along the projected route, and local politicians.

No formal independent investigation was carried out into the collapse that caused a hole 10m wide and 20m deep to open up behind houses in Lavender Street shortly after a TBM had passed beneath.

Haste was 'delighted' information would be released.'Next spring we will be presenting our hybrid bill in Parliament and expect to face select committees in about 12 months.

Knowing what happened at Lavender Street will be very helpful. We may even ask CTRL to supply an expert witness if appropriate.'

He pointed to the difference between UK incidents such as Lavender Street and the 1994 Heathrow Express collapse and the recent Singapore cut and cover tunnel disaster (GE May).

'In Singapore, the government put out an interim report into the collapse in six months, so everyone involved in similar projects knew what the problem was, ' Haste said.

A CTRL spokesman said: 'This was a freak accident involving an uncharted well.

'We introduced new operating and site investigation procedures, and afterwards the tunnelling went smoothly.

'We have nothing to hide and anyone that needs this information is welcome to contact us.'

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