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Profile Simon Murray

The new man in charge of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

This week Simon Murray became Britain's most powerful civil engineer. The BAA group technical services managing director has announced that he is moving on to Railtrack to take charge of not just the Channel Tunnel Rail Link but Railtrack's entire investment programme.

By March next year the 47-year-old will be in charge of almost pounds20bn of infrastructure investment as Railtrack's director of major projects and investment.

After four years leading BAA's drive to revolutionise construction procurement, Murray is probably the industry's leading expert on modern construction methods. Under his regime BAA has put in place its ground-breaking framework arrangements and methods which are slicing cost and time out of its annual pounds400M capital expenditure programme.

Railtrack is already committed to achieving the targets laid out in the recent Rethinking Construction report. But as Murray is widely credited with writing that report, Railtrack and its suppliers will find themselves thrust to the forefront of the Egan revolution.

Murray relishes his new challenge and the chance to become involved in CTRL and Railtrack's extensive list of engineering schemes. It is the high point, so far, of a busy career.

He studied civil engineering at Imperial College, as a contemporary of Scott Wilson director and ICE vice president Peter Guthrie. 'I think I was probably the last person to get a job when we left,' he says. But he always preferred geotechnics and ended up at BRE with John Burland.

He joined Ove Arup in 1975 and spent seven years travelling the world working on as many engineering projects as he could. By 1982 he was in Hong Kong as project engineer on the sea water cooling intake for the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank.

When he returned to the UK he teamed up with Mark Bostock to create Arup Economic Consultants, to explore the role the company could play in project management. They ended up in Zimbabwe working on a pounds100M cold store facility.

'It was a wonderful experience,' he recalls. 'My first chance to be a part of the client team and the first time I really saw a project from the customer's point of view.'

That job led to an invitation to be part of the executive team building the pounds500M award winning Glaxo Medicines Research Centre in Stevenage.

It was on this project that he realised the industry's problems could only be dealt with through a change in culture.

He started speaking out at conferences about the industry's inefficiency at around the same time as BAA's Sir John Egan was doing the same thing. So it was almost inevitable that he was recruited to manage the company's procurement rethink.

Jackie Whitelaw

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