Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Letters to the editor

Team effort

The profile (NCE 17 September) following the Civil Engineering Manager of the Year Award, while flattering, credits too much to me and too little to others involved in the 0resund Tunnel project. To that extent, it gives a misleading impression of the relationship between Symonds, the contractor and the owner. There are also a number of incorrect statements in the article, but rather than pick them off one by one, perhaps it is better to very briefly describe what really happened.

0resund Tunnel Contractors assembled a team of about 20 engineers in Sweden for the tender period. Symonds supported the tender from the UK, while I joined 0TC in Sweden to act as link between the two. The construction method evolved directly from the outstanding creativity of 0TC's team, many of whom pursued unlikely ideas relentlessly over a period of months. I played a part in this process, particularly in helping 0TC to integrate these ideas into a complete solution, but I should not have been credited with 'convincing an at first sceptical contractor to choose an untried construction method'. There were sceptics, both in 0TC and in Symonds, but there were powerful advocates on both sides too. No single individual delivered this result - it was, from end to end, a team effort. I should mention that all our efforts would have come to nothing had not 0resundskonsortiet, the client for the tunnel, had the courage and imagination to accept a tender which depended for its success on a major innovation in construction method.

Turning to the main contract period, there are three main points to make. First, the caption on the photograph is wrong - I only managed the Symonds design team, not the production of the tunnel elements. Secondly, the fee mechanism was designed to share design cost risk, not construction cost risk. Third, and most importantly, my so-called communication 'coup de grace' of working in both countries equally, was developed jointly with 0TC at the start of the contract, as the best way to serve the needs of both parties. The successful joint working that followed, including in particular the management of design changes, owes as much to the co- operative attitude adopted by 0TC as it does to anything I achieved personally.

In conclusion, 'Civil Engineering Manager of the Year' is a personal award, but the 0resund tunnel, like every construction project, is the work of a team. Without the positive working relationship fostered by both 0TC and 0SK, I would never have been in the position to enter the competition, let alone win it.

Chris Marshall (M), Symonds Group, Symonds House, Wood Street, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 1UU.

Railtrack role

Railtrack has been quick to adopt current political thinking on transport in London ('London calling', NCE Railtrack supplement, 24 September), and no wonder when it sees maintaining the London Underground network as its prize, but it fails to understand that integration, as currently espoused, is more than integration of the different public transport modes. It is also integration of transport planning with land use planning and other spheres of public policy.

One of the biggest downsides to the current organisation of the rail industry is the loss of the rail network to the wider planning process. It will not, as Robert Reid suggests, be Railtrack which will be

looking to the new mayor for London to help it tackle integration of transport planning in the capital, but the mayor who will be looking for Railtrack to come onside and play its part in the wider development of London.

John Sanderson, principal transport planner, LPAC, Artillery House, Artillery Row, London SW1P 1RT.

Danger signal

Railtrack's 'Digital update' (NCE supplement, 24 September) fills me with alarm. The scheme will do away with trackside signals and signalling boxes and replace them with an advanced transmission based system. So advanced that engineers can only predict its cost at between pounds500M and pounds1bn. There's a nice wide margin for error - pounds500M give or take.

Later it says the clever part is that at any stage it will be possible to switch back to the old system if there is a problem. How many lives will it cost?

Hugh Burn (F), 15 Greenfield Road, Devizes, Wilts SN10 6BP.

Management move

I am prompted by two articles in NCE 10 September on the role and structure of management education in the rounding of professional engineers; 'The generation gap' and 'If you want to get ahead'. The ICE has committed itself through the Management Board to support a programme of events aimed at the young professionals and the cultural change process heralded by both the Latham and Egan reports.

Ourselves and six other Institutions of the Engineering Council see the jointly sponsored diploma in engineering management as being an important route for practising engineers to gain effective knowledge and skills relevant to their development needs. The DEM is a jointly sponsored course with accreditation to MBA and MSc degree courses. The diploma also offers scope to be tailored towards the Institution's matching section requirements under SARTOR 1997. It is a worthwhile course which under the supervision of the Joint Board for Engineering Management is presently re-examining how it may be more effectively delivered. Its uniqueness at the moment is that it provides through distance learning, an opportunity for professional engineers to develop management skills based on their industry needs and at the same time is endorsed by the leading professional bodies.

Details and further contact information can be provided by Jon Martin on 0171 665 2216, martin_j@ice.org.uk.

John Plumb, ICE, 1 Great George Street, London SW1P 3AA.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs