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Bids go in for £100m Crossrail role

Laing O’Rourke and JVs of Bechtel-Halcrow-Systra, and Parsons Brinckerhoff-Balfour Beatty believed to have tabled bids for £100 million role

Bids have been submitted for a £100 million job to oversee the running of Crossrail.

The deadline for bids to be programme partner - a role that involves ensuring the entire project is delivered to time, to the desired quality and within budget - passed last Friday.

Tenders are understood to have been submitted by Laing O’Rourke and a joint venture consisting of Bechtel, Halcrow and Systra.

A joint venture comprising Parsons Brinckerhoff and Balfour Beatty is also believed to have tabled a bid.

A Crossrail spokesman said: “We are evaluating the bids and expect to make an announcement in the new year.”

Bids are still being prepared for the role of project partner to assist with the delivery of the central tunnel section of the route.

Spanish-owned airports operator BAA this week became the first company to throw money into the pot for the £16 billion Crossrail link by pledging £230 million in exchange for regular services to London’s Heathrow airport.

Despite rising fears that the City would be reluctant to contribute to the project during the economic downturn, Crossrail hopes the BAA funding is the first of many private investment packages to be earmarked for the rail link.

The Government has pledged £5.6 billion for the new line but will need to secure private funding for the balance.

Lord Adonis, the transport minister, said: “This is a hugely important scheme for the country. Crossrail is the largest addition to the transport network in 50 years and this announcement represents a major step towards its delivery.

“Business has long been a strong advocate for Crossrail and this is borne out today.”

In return for the contribution - which is subject to approval by the Civil Aviation Authority - Crossrail will guarantee BAA a fast train service four times an hour for most of the day.

This would include direct services from Heathrow airport to central London, the City and Canary Wharf, as well as services to Shenfield and Abbey Wood.

Mike Forster, strategy director at BAA, said: “We are delighted to support the Crossrail scheme - it demonstrates our commitment to improving public transport access to Heathrow.”

London mayor Boris Johnson said: “Work has already begun at Tottenham Court Road station and the contracts to design and build the multi-billion pound project are all on track to be awarded by spring 2009.

“All parties are committed to Crossrail’s success and together we will deliver it on time and on budget.”

After years of delay - and following the Conservatives’ scrapping of the scheme in the 1990s on cost grounds - Crossrail was finally given the go ahead by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in autumn 2007.

The legislation enabling Crossrail to progress was given Royal Assent in July this year. Major construction work is expected to begin in 2010.
The scheme is scheduled for completion in 2017.

John Cridland, deputy director-general of the CBI, said: “With this major plank of funding in place from BAA, it is important that there are no further delays to Crossrail and that work begins as soon as possible.”

The BAA contribution will be paid in two instalments and will be linked to progress on a new rail flyover at Stockley, near Heathrow.


Baggage handling problems that arose when Heathrow Terminal 5 opened were partly due to delays in the construction of the building, according to a report published this week by MPs.

The House of Commons Transport Committee report concluded that training for
baggage handlers had been inadequate “as a consequence of delays in the building programme”.

It said: “There was reduced time for several stakeholders including British Airways to conclude testing and training on vital equipment such as the baggage system, airbridge jetties and ground handling equipment.

“British Airways deferred by six weeks the commencement of the on-site familiarisation programme for its passenger service and ramp employees.”

BAA acknowledged that the opening of Terminal 5 did not “live up to passengers’ expectations”.

BAA said: “We remain of the view that the close working relationship between BA and BAA in the first few days of the terminal’s operation resolved problems quickly and helped to raise standards to the level passengers see today.”

It added: “We have also introduced a number of changes which reflect the lessons learned at T5 and the committee acknowledges these positive steps and the changes that have brought them about within BAA.”