Backers of mega-project Crossrail were this week steeling themselves for a fight against potential cuts to its £15.9bn budget.
London mayor Boris Johnson led the lobbying last Friday at a meeting with new transport secretary Philip Hammond.
Meanwhile, work is continuing behind the scenes to try and shave money off the project to ensure it remains an attractive scheme to a cost-cutting government.
Hammond had demanded a meeting with Johnston to seek assurances that all value engineering options were being exhausted (News last week).
Crossrail sources said Johnson left the meeting “looking pretty chipper” and his transport adviser Kulveer Ranger said the mayor had “enjoyed a constructive discussion” with Hammond.
“The mayor is confident that the transport secretary is aware of the immense importance of continued investment in London’s transport infrastructure,” he added.
Hammond, however, said that while he agreed with the importance of transport infrastructure he would continue to focus on affordability.
“Clearly, our challenge is to deliver the Crossrail project at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer,” Hammond said. “I look forward to working closely with the mayor to ensure that we get maximum value for every pound of taxpayers’ money spent on the project.”
Consultants are in the midst of looking at ways to claw back costs from its scope, risk, programme and procurement.
The project is understood to be looking to shave money from the scheme through changes in design and re-evaluating the procurement strategy to take out some contingency.
Other work to minimise costs has been taking place behind the scenes over the past few months.
Designers have been re-examining the scope to ensure unnecessary and costly items are eliminated before construction (NCE 11 March).
Crossrail chief executive Rob Holden has maintained that he intends to bring the scheme in well under the £15.9bn price tag.