Crossrail chief executive Rob Holden this week urged the industry to lobby politicians from all parties to ensure that the £15.9bn project remains on track.
He warned that pressure on public finances meant the project remained vulnerable and said it was critical for engineers to keep reminding politicians and civil servants of the economic benefits to the UK from Crossrail investment.
“Everyone has a role to help to make the case for Crossrail − because there is still a case to be made,” said Holden.
“There is a lot of commitment but it is not at the point that it cannot be stopped. The project still needs political leadership at the right level.”
Holden was speaking at a lunch organised by recruitment specialist Odgers Berndtson Infrastructure Practice. It was attended by senior construction and transport industry executives.
He warned that despite the recent flurry of contract awards, it was still possible for the government to stop the project at any time between now and the project’s review point 4 − which is expected at the end of 2010.
Holden added that it was tempting to push forward with construction early to present a physical reason to keep the project going. But he said that approach could introduce many new risks to programme and budget.
“It’s about giving confidence to politicians that we can deliver complex infrastructure on time and to budget.”
Rob Holden, Crossrail
“It’s about giving confidence to politicians that we can deliver complex infrastructure on time and to budget,” he told the audience. “We need you to work with us to get the right political support for the project.”
Holden said that the project had enjoyed strong cross-party support, including backing from politicians such as new transport secretary Lord Adonis. But he warned that pressure on public finances meant that a project of this scale would always be vulnerable to government-imposed delay.
Lacking a champion
Holden pointed out that the High Speed railway 1 between London and the Channel Tunnel benefited from heavyweight political support, first from Conservative environment secretary Michael Heseltine and then from Labour’s deputy prime minister John Prescott. Crossrail still lacks an obvious champion of the same stature.
Finding this champion was, he said, vital to efforts reduce the risk of the project being halted.
Holden said that a scattergun approach to lobbying was dangerous, but that the current state of flux in British politics meant it was hard to target specific individuals.
New contract awards
The second series of design contracts has been awarded to companies holding Crossrail design frameworks.
- Package C100 Architectural Component Design - Atkins
- Package C152 Pudding Mill Lane Portal - Scott Wilson
- Package C124 Tunnels and Shafts Aerodynamics and Ventilation - Mott MacDonald
- Package C136 Farringdon Station Design - Scott Wilson
Packages let previously
- Package C150 Royal Oak Portal - Capita Symonds
- Package C121 Sprayed Concrete Lining - Mott MacDonald
- Package C122 Bored Tunnels Atkins/Arup joint venture
- Package C134 Tottenham Court Road Station - Atkins/Arup