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Crossrail hopefuls band together

Balfour Beatty, Morgan Est and Vinci Construction Grands Projets team up for major construction package

Contractors are forming alliances to bid for Crossrail’s major construction packages with prequalification questionnaires expected to be sent out “very soon”.

Pan-European alliances are being formed to give consortiums the best possible chance of winning major slices of the Northern Hemisphere’s largest civil engineering job.

Balfour Beatty, Morgan Est and Vinci Construction Grands Projets, who have formed a consortium to win work on the £2bn new Forth Bridge, will bid together on Crossrail with a fourth firm who is as yet not known.

Laing O’Rourke has also teamed up with French-giant Bouygues while it is understood German firm Bilfinger Berger is joining Costain and Skanska.

Bam Nuttall is in talks with various different partners to create a consortium to go for the major tunnelling packages, but as yet no team has been formed.

Spanish giants Ferrovial and Italian construction firm Impregilo have also met with senior construction officials to express their interest in winning work.

One major player that has ruled itself out of the running for the major packages is Carillion, with bosses saying “tunnelling jobs are on the forbidden list” for the firm.

Sources within the contractors preparing to bid for work said they believe Crossrail bosses want the project as advanced as possible ahead of the next general election in June 2010 to make it more difficult for the elected party to put it on hold.

A source at one bidder said: “We are getting the distinct impression the client wants Crossrail moving on as quickly as possible. We are expecting PQQ documents very soon.”

A spokeswoman for Crossrail said: “We are working with sponsors and the industry and the procurement process is continuing to the planned timescale.

“Having appointed our programme partner and project delivery partner earlier this year, as well as awarding the initial detailed design contracts, we are on track to start major works in 2010.”

Bechtel was named project delivery partner in April and Transcend – a joint venture between AECOM, CH2m Hill and Nichols Group – was appointed in March as programme partner on the £16.2 billion project.

Framework agreements for the projects enabling works were also announced in April.

Laing O’Rourke, John F Hunt Demolition, McGee, Keltbray, Brown & Mason, PJ Carey, BAM Nuttall and Kier all won a place on the demolition framework.

The civils framework includes Laing O’Rourke, a Costain Skanska joint venture, Carillion, Kier, Morgan Est, J Murphy & Sons and Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering.

Morgan Est, a Costain/Skanska joint venture, McNicholas Construction, J Murphy & Sons, Clancy Docwra and Laing O’Rourke all made the cut for the utilities framework.

Crossrail will employ 14,000 at the peak of construction between 2013 and 2015 with another 7,000 jobs supported indirectly through related services such as manufacturing equipment.

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