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Tunnel bids for Crossrail

Full tender documents for the lucrative main TBM tunnel packages on the £15.9bn Crossrail scheme are expected to go to bidders in the next few weeks as the project presses forward with main works procurement.

Programme director Andy Mitchell this week confirmed that shortlisted contractors would be invited to tender for package C300 for the western running tunnels on 26 March. Mitchell said the deal would be worth “hundreds of millions of pounds”.

Tenders would be invited for Package C305 for the eastern running tunnels on 9 April, he said. At roughly twice the size of C300 it is likely to be the biggest single contract let on the project.

Five consortiums were shortlisted for both packages in December (NCE 10 December).

They are:

  • A joint venture of Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Limited , Morgan Est, Vinci Construction Grand Projects and Beton-und Monierbau Gesellschaft
  • A joint venture comprising Bam Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman (UK) and Kier Construction
  • A joint venture comprising Costain, Skanska Construction UK and Bilfinger Berger Civil
  • A joint venture comprising Dragados and John Sisk & Son
  • A joint venture comprising Laing O’Rourke Construction and Bouygues Travaux Publics. Mitchell said contractors would be expected to demonstrate how they will drive down costs on the project.

“We are asking contractors to submit a target price,” he said. “It is recognised that the first six months that they are on board is a time to take advantage of any method-related cost saving.”

He added that although the design specification was intentionally very prescriptive, Crossrail was still looking to working closely with winning consortia to improve the design.

“We accept the fact that there is inevitably a period to embed the value that the contractors bring,” he said. “Hence the need to get these tenders out and get the process going to get the main contractors on board and absorb their input.”

Bundled contracts

Mitchell added that the sprayed concrete lining (SCL) elements of tunnelling, mainly through the station boxes, could also be bundled into the TBM packages.

Two discreet packages for the SCL elements are expected to be put out to tender in the early summer, but Mitchell said he was open to bundling them into the TBM contracts to ease management of contract interfaces.

“We have talked to the bidders and the feedback is that they would appreciate the ability to put forward a combined package for the TBM and SCL works,” he said.

“We will be aiming to start the award of the main tunnelling contracts in October and by that time we will have received the station tunnel bids and if there is sufficient reason to award two contracts to a single consortium we would be in position to do so.”

SCL contracts for the main stations excavation and construction would not be bundled with the TBM contracts, said Mitchell.

Advance work tenders are out

Crossrail has issued tenders for advance works for five of the most complicated tunnelled stations
− Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street and Whitechapel.

Each comprises station boxes up to 300m long and 25m wide, Crossrail programme director Andy Mitchell said the works were crucial.

“These significant pieces of work will be crucial to the Crossrail programme as they will enable each station to receive the tunnel boring machines on schedule at its site,” he said.

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