The race has begun for major contracts on the £16 billion Crossrail project, with two major tunnelling packages out to tender and a third expected within the next month.
Crossrail this week put two lots, C300 and C305, out to tender under one contract notice. Sources claim that a third tunnelling contract, C310, is three weeks behind.
C300 covers the construction of the 6.2 km stretch of tunnels from Royal Oak Portal, west of Paddington Station, through to the new Crossrail Farringdon Station in the City.
Work to be carried out during the 58-month job also includes the construction of a shaft at Fisher Street, but the construction of the Royal Oak Portal will be let separately.
Meanwhile the 66-month C305 covers the construction of an 8.3 km tunnel section from a launch chamber at Limmo Peninsular through to the new Farringdon Station, as well as 2.7km of tunnel from a launch chamber at Stepney Green to the Pudding Mill Lane Portal.
A 0.9 km section from the launch chamber at Limmo Peninsular through to the Victoria Dock Portal is also required.
Firms have until 28 September to submit pre-qualification questionnaires for one or both lots.
Balfour Beatty, Morgan Est and Vinci Construction Grands Projets are thought to be forming a consortium to bid for the project, while Laing O’Rourke has teamed up with Bouygues.
It is understood that Costain and Skanska will be forming a joint venture with German firm Bilfinger Berger to bid.
Crossrail said it would publish separate contract notices for the Thames Tunnel, and for station platform tunnels at Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Liverpool Street and Whitechapel stations.
It is thought that the next notice will be the C310 for the Plumstead Portal.
A source at one contractor eyeing up the project said:”C310 is about three weeks behind these published contract notices, according to Crossrail.”
Main construction for the project – featuring 21 km of twin 6.2 m internal diameter bored tunnels - is scheduled to begin next year with the first boring machine launching late 2011.