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Infrastructure in 2014: How Crossrail is set to transform London

In 2014 Crossrail will reach the halfway mark and begin to move from heavy civils towards a focus on tunnel fit-out and railways systems.


Over the last year Crossrail has made significant progress with tunnelling now 65% complete and work advancing on the new Crossrail stations in central London and Docklands. Our first tunnelling machine has completed its journey between Royal Oak and Farringdon, with a further six tunnelling machines below the streets of London and around 10,000 people working on the project. The surface works delivered by Network Rail continue to progress and are 20% complete.

One million tonnes of excavated material has now been transported from London by rail and water to Wallasea Island in Essex to help create a new RSPB nature reserve. The UK’s largest archaeological programme is underway on Crossrail with more than 10,000 artefacts uncovered so far along with the discovery of Medieval burials sites at Farringdon and Roman remains at Liverpool Street.

With an unprecedented level of tunnelling and underground construction work due to take place in the UK, we are helping to deliver
a new generation of workers with the right engineering skills and expertise. The £13M Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy in Ilford plays a leading role in supporting the Crossrail project, but will also support future projects such as Thames Tideway and High Speed 2. So far 270 apprenticeships have been created, with over 100 in the last 12 months alone, and we are on target to deliver at least 400 apprenticeships during the life of the programme.

The level of international interest in the Crossrail project only continues to increase. Working with UK Trade and Investment, delegations from Europe, the Middle East, South America and Asia have visited to learn first hand from the UK’s experience in delivering major infrastructure projects. Globally, the UK has developed world-class expertise in this area and has considerable export growth potential.

Contracts totalling £6.5bn have been awarded to date with 97% of businesses winning work on the project based in the UK. Three out of five businesses currently winning work on the project are based outside London and over half are small businesses.

With an unprecedented level of tunnelling and underground construction work due to take place in the UK, we are helping to deliver a new generation of workers with the right engineering skills and expertise

Key milestones during 2014 include the completion of major tunnelling, the award of the £1bn rolling stock and depot contract, intensification of works on the existing rail network and the award of the Woolwich station fit-out contract.

Joint venture partners will also be sought for major station property developments at Paddington, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street and Limmo Peninsula. There will be additional progress on creating and funding The Culture Line, a programme to deliver a permanent exhibition of eight large-scale world-class artworks in Crossrail’s central London stations, in collaboration with leading art galleries.

Crossrail is Europe’s biggest construction project and is among the most ambitious infrastructure schemes ever undertaken in the UK and will change fundamentally the way in which everyone travels around London.


Chief secretaryto the Treasury Danny Alexander recently visited the project


When Crossrail opens in 2018 it will stretch over 100km from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west through central London to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east, increasing the capital’s rail-based transport network capacity by 10%, and will link Heathrow, the West End, the City of London and Canary Wharf for the first time.

Already the project is creating a diverse and effective supply chain that is creating jobs and business opportunities, not just in London but throughout the UK.

From Falmouth to Fife, thousands of companies are winning work on the project, more than half of which are SMEs. We have estimated that the project will support the equivalent of 55,000 full time jobs and create at least 75,000 business opportunities right around the country.

Infrastructure investment not only keeps Britain moving but also drives the economy forward, increases our competitive edge, creates employment during delivery while also maintaining the health of the engineering, construction and design industries.

London is a fast evolving, global city with a growing population that is expected to reach 9M by 2020. The need to move our transport network forward is more important than ever.

As we approach the halfway point, the benefits of Crossrail are drawing nearer. With investment in Crossrail, our Sponsors – TfL and the Department for Transport – have shown their commitment to moving London and the UK forward and demonstrated a huge vote of confidence in engineers and UK engineering.

  • Terry Morgan is chairman of Crossrail

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