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Engineers strive to slash £3bn from cost of London's Crossrail

GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEERS are working on simplifying tunnelling works for London's Crossrail scheme in a bid to drastically cut the cost of the project.

GE understands that ministers have asked the body working up the scheme, Cross London Rail Links (CLRL), to drive down costs on the project by around 20%. This would bring down the cost from an estimated £16bn to just less than £13bn.

Under CLRL executive chairman Doug Oakervee, who oversaw construction of Hong Kong international airport built on reclaimed land on time and ahead of budget, engineers are modifying the tunnelling regime as a major cost cutting measure.

Under Oakervee's plan the number of tunnel boring machines will be cut from 13 to seven and will be made to 'work a bit harder' a CLRL spokesman said.

Another change is to remove spoil from the tunnelling works at each end of the tunnel rather than from station sites within the tunnel - from where they would have been trucked out by road. Instead, spoil will be removed from the tunnel portal at Royal Oak where it will be taken away by train.

Spoil will also be removed from the eastern end at the Limmo Peninsula in the Isle of Dogs where it will be removed by barge.

A shaft that would be sunk as a launching point for one of the TBMs at Hanbury Street in Spitalelds has also been scrapped under the revised scheme.

The parliamentary bill for Crossrail is expected to become law late next year. The government is expected to make a funding announcement on the scheme in time for the Comprehensive Spending Review next July.

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