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Royal Assent to trigger scamble for Crossrail design work

Royal Assent for the Crossrail Bill is expected within weeks, freeing up client Cross London Rail Links (CLRL) to begin construction of the £16bn Crossrail project.

The Bill has just completed its Lords committee stage and a Crossrail Bill office spokesman told NCE that Royal Assent for the bill is likely to be given before the Parliament's summer recess begins on 23 July.

"We are yet to have a third reading and report stage," said the spokesman.

"Once they are complete, then the bill goes back to the Commons for final agreement, and then Royal Assent."

While this will grant CLRL the powers to begin building, tenders for the project delivery and design contracts may not be awarded until October, NCE understands.

"Until the tenders are issued, it is business as usual," said a Crossrail spokesperson, who confirmed that enabling works should begin in spring 2009, and construction start in 2010.

One consultant bidding said there was already fevered anticipation over future contracts beyond the design roles that may be awarded.

"Everyone is desperate find out what the proposed 'Delivery Partner' contracts will look like," he said.

"These contracts could be analogous to CTRL, but with a more public approach, like the Olympic Games. Both the Olympics and Crossrail, as publicly funded projects, will be far more closely monitored by ministers."

Scott Wilson will keep the design and management of overground sections of the project, working with Network Rail.

For the central tunnelled portion, until the new contracts are won, the existing Multi-disciplinary Consultant (MDC) contracts will remain - Mott MacDonald, an Arup/Atkins joint venture and Halcrow, overseen by Bechtel as programme manager.

All are looking to pick-up design and management work under the new organisation. Parsons Brinckerhoff, CH2MHill, Arup and Systra are also understood to be pitching for work.

Should the Bill fail to reach Royal Assent by July 22, then it will complete in the next session of parliament, which begins on 6 October.

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