LONDON & CONTINENTAL Railways' claim that section two of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) will continue without Railtrack funding were strengthened last week as the first two contracts were awarded.
A Hochtief /Murphy joint venture has won the first tunnelling contract to be let. This includes 2.5km of 8m diameter twin bored tunnels through chalk beneath the Thames.
And Skanska is preferred bidder for Contract 230, worth £105M. This includes excavation and preparation work for a new underground international station at Stratford. The trains will approach from either side via approach tunnels.
Section two will eventually link Ebbsfleet in Kent with London's St Pancras station.
The Hochtief/Murphy tunnels are part of the £130M, 3.6km Contract 320, linking Thurrock in Essex with Swanscombe across the Thames in Kent.
The tunnel design has already been largely completed by LCR's designer Rail Link Engineering (RLE), but work is not expected to begin until mid-year as a tunnel boring machine has to be ordered.
At Stratford, Skanska is building a propped station box using diaphragm walls within a 1km long, 50m wide and 25m deep excavation.
'It's a very large heavy civil engineering project to a tight programme, ' said Skanksa's director of major projects David Blackburn.
'We are excavating in some contaminated areas, need to demolish existing buildings and raise the land around the box by 8m while working alongside live railways, ' he added.