SKANSKA and Costain have seen their bid for the £400 million East London Line extension implode after a bust-up with fellow consortium member First Engineering.
The Access East team - which also featured Faber Maunsell and Siemens - was due to return its bid for the main construction contract to build the rail link between Dalston in north London and Croydon at the end of March.
But Construction News has discovered that the team had to tell client Transport for London it was pulling the plug on its bid after pressure from First Engineering parent company Babcock.
One bid insider said: 'The consortium was going through the process of getting the completed bid signed off by each company's boards. Siemens had done so and passed it on to First Engineering for approval. This was on the night before the bid was due to go in.
Babcock got cold feet about the risk and told First Engineering to pull out.'
First Engineering then asked whether it could be designated as a preferred supplier for rail works under an exclusivity agreement rather than remain a consortium member, a move rejected by the other members of Access East.
It is understood that this resulted in First Engineering refusing permission for the work it had done on the bid to be used as part of the submission, effectively torpedoing the consortium's hopes of proceeding.
A Skanska spokeswoman confirmed it was no longer in the running. She said: 'Access East can confirm it has decided to no longer proceed in the bidding process for the East London Line as consortium members were unable to agree final terms.'
It is the second time the consortium has fallen apart. Skanska was brought in early in the bidding for the contract after initial team member Taylor Woodrow, which is carrying out enabling works for the project, pulled out after pressure from its own board.
Transport for London is now examining the two submitted bids from Balfour Beatty/Carillion and E-Link (Laing O'Rourke/Amec Spie/Vinci) and is expected to announce a winning bidder on August 17.
Design work will begin immediately with work starting on site in the autumn. The new line is scheduled to open by June 2010.