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Crossrail boss Oakervee confident about scheme funding

Cross London Rail Links executive chairman Doug Oakervee, the man in charge of delivering the £15.9bn Crossrail scheme, this week told NCE that he was 'still very comfortable' over project funding.

Listen to the interview here and read the interview here

"The funding packages are in place as per Gordon Brown's announcement in October," Oakervee told NCE immediately after the project Bill received Royal Assent in Parliament.

"But if you were to ask me could I go to the bank and draw on the entire £15.9bn in cash the answer is obviously no - why would you expect it to be there."

Oakervee emphasised that although primary legislation is still needed to enable the supplementary business rate to be levied on London businesses - and this is not expected to go through until 2010 - all the fundamental sources of funding are in place.

"I have no real concerns over the funds being provided," he added. "The Secretary of State, the Mayor, Peter Hendy (TfL's transport commissioner and myself do not have concerns."

He pointed out that he worked with the Treasury to set funding on an annualised basis before the funding package for the project was announced by Gordon Brown last October. This was to ensure that the programme was aligned with the public money available.

"We did our sums," he says. "We have set a programme out that is sensible for Treasury to deal with given all the other demands that they have got - which makes it a safer programme."
Gaining Royal Assent for the project sees the Crossrail team move from being project promoter to delivery agent with compulsory purchase starting almost immediately.

The infrastructure works includes eight new subsurface stations, 23km of new subsurface railway infrastructure across central London including over 20 kilometres of twin-bore tunnel sections. Enabling works at Tottenham Court Road station is already underway by London Underground.

Invitations to tender are expected to go out in September to framework design contracts across seven different categories of work. Successful firms will be in place in the new year, ready to bid for design packages across the project.

A delivery partner will also be in place by the start of 2009 to help manage design and construction of the central tunnelled section along with a programme partner to help oversee the entire scheme.
We will start heavy construction work in 2010," said Oakervee, emphasising that they will be using so-called Optimised Contractor Involvement to bring on board contractors at the appropriate moment int e design so as to deliver a cost effective construction. This, he added was likely to be in the third quarter of next year.

Oakervee said that the current economic downturn could play to Crossrail advantage by reducing the risk of labour shortages and enabling skills to transfer from housing to civils.

However, one of Oakervee priorities is still to use the project to leave a lasting legacy of construction skills.

"We are talking seriously with government and the Mayor's office about starting the tunnelling academy," he said. "We have also spoken with industry and the utility companies and there is appetite to do that. So it will definite come off next year."

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