The man in charge of fitting out Crossrail’s stations has claimed that delays to Tottenham Hotspur’s 62,000-seater stadium led to a labour crisis in London during 2018.
Speaking to New Civil Engineer, Crossrail head of MEP engineering Rhys Williams revealed that “an enormous labour shortage” in London left Crossrail without enough workers to get the job finished before the original opening date of December 2018.
Williams said that Crossrail now has enough staff on site to finish the job but admitted that many stations had been left short of workers at various points over the last few years.
“If you look across London right now you will see tower cranes everywhere,” Williams said. “Reports that Tottenham going late did not impact Crossrail are wrong.
“Of course it had an impact on Crossrail, it had an impact on everyone working around here.”
Williams added that Crossrail was simply unable to compete with the rates private clients such as Tottenham Hotspur pay workers.
Electricians have reportedly earned as much as £400 a day for working on Tottenham’s stadium, compared to the daily London average rate of £160.
“We are working with public money so we can only pay a certain amount. Private clients don’t have the same restrictions, if they want something done quickly they can just throw more money at it to get it done,” he said.
“If you look at Liverpool Street and all the buildings going up next to the station. They all require fitting out and they also have more money to pay for it because it is a privately funded body.
“We have restrictions as we are publicly funded and we have to be really careful.”
He added: “Highly-skilled labour is extremely scarce. I was an electrician myself and I followed the money as a young lad and times haven’t changed.
“I’m talking about electricians, fitters, pipe fitters, cladders, carpenters, the whole lot.
“On a project that lasts 10 years, it is unrealistic to say that we are not going to be affected by the labour shortages in London.
“For a 10 year project, for the stations to be opening a couple months late, it is not a disaster, it is a miracle.”
Earlier this month, Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild revealed there were still “many, many thousands of hours” of work left to do at the central stations.
New Civil Engineer subsequently revealed that lump-sum payments are being negotiated with contractors to ensure they get work finished quickly.
Williams added that all stations are now working towards a summer completion, with the exception of Bond Street which may take a few months longer.
He confirmed that the line could potentially open without Bond Street, as suggested by Mark Wild earlier this month.
Like what you’ve read? To receive New Civil Engineer’s daily and weekly newsletters click here.