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London Rail special: Designer calls for more client flexibility

Clients must be more flexible about accepting changes to long-standing designs, a leading consultant said this week.

Consultant Hyder, which made significant changes to Crossrail’s design for Whitechapel station, urged clients to follow its client’s lead.

“If I had to put it into one line, I would say, as a client, don’t be afraid to change the design,” Hyder major project director Nigel Hayward told NCE’s London Rail conference.

His view was echoed by Crossrail architect Weston Williamson director Rob Naybour.“The big savings are in what you build, not how you build it,” he said.

Contractor Costain rail operations director Lee Davies agreed, but said he understood why some clients were reluctant to make changes.

“Crossrail is quite averse to change at the moment as it knows the impacts can quickly spread,” he said.

For him, the key was finding time for planning. “From a contractor’s point of view, the longer we’ve got to plan, the quicker and more effectively we can do the work.”

Hayward said time could be found by running designs in parallel. This was the approach used at Whitechapel.

“We ran two designs in parallel for a significant time, until we could convince Crossrail we wouldn’t go outside the limits of deviation,” he said.

“We built some float into our design programme and by pushing two design ideas in parallel to a certain level, we got to a stage where we could just focus on one of them and carry on with the design programme. We ate up the float we but ended up on programme.”  

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