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CTRL picks first tunnel teams

PREFERRED BIDDERS for the first two tunnelling contracts on the £3bn Channel Tunnel Rail Link between St Pancras station in London and the Channel Tunnel were announced by client Rail Link Engineering last month, ending months of speculation.

Tracklink, the joint venture of Mowlem, Germany's Holzmann and Belgium's Besix, is the preferred contractor for the £65M Contract 210 London Tunnels West from St Pancras to Islington. As well as the 1.6km long twin bores for the link, the contractor is to build two 0.6km Thameslink tunnels between the East Coast Main Line and St Pancras.

And the joint venture of Dutch HBG sister firms Nuttall and Wayss & Freytag, together with Kier, was chosen for the Contract 250 London Tunnels East from Barking to Dagenham, worth £135M. Tunnellers will use 7.15m diameter earth pressure balance TBMs to construct the twin 5.4km long bored tunnels. Work also includes 300m of retaining walls and 197m of cut and cover at the tunnel approaches.

Both contractors have now signed exclusivity agreements that ensures that they will receive compensation for any work carried out, even if RLE does not award construction contracts.

The agreements will see representatives from all contractors joining RLE's staff at its Euston offices to pool knowledge, refine technical designs and firm up costs.

Preferred bidders were expected to be announced before Christmas, but this was delayed as contractors demanded assurance that they would be paid, after worries over project funding. RLE's parent company London & Continental has still to raise finance it needs for the high profile link.

CTRL will be one of Europe's biggest civil engineering projects, and will involve around six

times the volume of excavation carried out for the Jubilee Line Extension.

Preferred bidders for contract 230, the £300M Stratford box and contract 320, the £100M Thames Tunnel have still to be named, with RLE able only to say that they will be awarded

'soon'.

Announcement of the preferred bidder for the £60M contract 410 North Downs Tunnel is expected after that.

Contracts for 250 and 210 are expected to be signed in April, which will see the start of preparatory work, but construction is not expected to start in earnest until the end of the year.

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