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Q&A: Andrew Wolstenholme, Crossrail

With Crossrail’s tunnelling now complete, attention turns to the station fit-out and track work. CEO Andrew Wolstenholme outlines his priorities for 2016.

What are your hopes for 2016?

2015 has been a great year for the Crossrail project with the completion of our tunnelling marathon and huge progress made at each of our new stations.

Crossrail is 70 per cent complete and being delivered on time and within budget. 2016 will be a significant year for us as we turn those huge underground spaces we’ve created into a railway.

What are the top three ways construction will change in the next 12 months?

1) The companies who can deliver the added value to clients, such as investing in skills, innovation and sustainable ways of working, will be the ones that get the larger slice of the infrastructure pipeline opportunities.

2) Offsite manufacturing techniques will also continue to flourish and benefit those that develop designs using digital models. They will help to reduce the onsite costs of infrastructure projects and could form an important contribution in the housebuilding sector. Further value will be generated for clients and supply chains that extend their digital expertise over the complete lifecycle of the asset.

3) I hope we can start to embrace even greater levels of innovation in the construction industry, with public and private sector clients, the supply chain and academia feeling more comfortable working collaboratively.

What were your low and high points of 2015?

Marking the completion of Crossrail’s tunnelling effort with the prime minister, mayor of London and secretary of state, 40 m below the streets of London at Farringdon.

Having David Cameron tell the Crossrail workforce they make him proud to be their prime minister was a great moment for all of us.

EU referendum: In or out?

I’m watching the debate unfold with interest.

Which areas will you be focusing on in 2016?

First and foremost, keeping Crossrail on programme and delivered to the highest standards of health and safety is my key priority; the whole industry is relying on us to get the job done on time and on budget.

The government has £411bn-worth of major projects in its National Infrastructure Plan and is a huge opportunity for UK firms.

As co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council, I will be looking at the first steps we need to take to ensure the infrastructure sector will be the next great British success story.

Our industry is a sleeping giant: it has all the ingredients to be a major contributor to the UK economy, but we’re not quite up there with the aerospace or automotive industries yet.

I will be working with the construction minister and the new National Infrastructure Commission to see how the industry can be more productive, innovative, skilled and internationally exportable.

Central to this will be adapting to deliver smarter, more sustainable, ‘whole-life’ infrastructure.

Andrew Wolstenholme is CEO of Crossrail

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