Rail Industry Focus


Supply chain opportunities on Crossrail

Crossrail chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme explains the vast number of opportunities available for railway businesses coming up over the next few years.

Crossrail is soon to hit its peak employment phase, and is also moving from the heavy civils and tunnelling phase towards the rail systems and station fit-out stage, opening up new opportunities for the rail supply chain.

Around 9,000 people are already working on the project, and by next year this will rise to nearly 15,000.

The project’s chief executive since 2011, Andrew Wolstenholme, spoke at Railtex 2013 to outline progress made so far, but also the vast amount of upcoming work.

He told the packed audience in his keynote speech: “The huge numbers of exhibitors and visitors here highlight where we are at in the industry – I’m very excited by what I’m seeing and the pipeline of work coming up.”

He added: “There’s opportunities for many people in this room right now.”

Wolstenholme pledged that there would be full transparency and visibility of the workbank to make it clear where and when opportunities will arise for the supply chain over the next 12- 24 months.

Progress made and contracts awarded

He gave an overview of the Crossrail route and its impressive economic case, and how it will help increase capacity and tackle congestion at the busiest nodes of London’s transport network. He also explained where the funding is coming from – £7.15bn from TfL and the GLA, £5.2bn from the DfT, BAAplc and the City of London, and £2.45bn from Network Rail and others making up its total £14.8bn cost.

Funding is also being unlocked by the vast land and property opportunities and regeneration, including a huge amount of over-site development.

Wolstenholme described the huge amount of tunnelling already done – just over 10km on the morning he spoke, about 25% of the total – and said: “We’re beginning to focus on the future – the railway systems and the station fittings.”

The major station contracts are now let, as are many of the others:
Signalling – Siemens/Invensys JV
Traction Power – Alstom/Costain JV
Communications and Control – Siemens
Railway Systems – Alstom/Costain/TSO JV
High Voltage Power – Alstom/Costain JV

‘Unzipping’ London

The scope of some of the projects, such as Paddington, Liverpool Street, and especially Tottenham Court Road, is staggering.

“We’re ‘unzipping’ parts of London,” Wolstenholme said. “These are very constrained worksites, with local communities, commercial and retail going on all around, requiring a high degree of stakeholder management.”

On Tottenham Court Road specifically, he said: “It is substantially larger in both scale and size than anything we can see in London today.”

He spoke of the need to integrate work between a range of different constructors and joint ventures to hand over to infrastructure managers, the difficult interfaces with the national rail network west and east of the capital, and the huge number of station upgrades and major structural projects to be completed.

But he said he was thrilled that Howard Smith, former chief operating officer at London Rail for TfL, has come on board at Crossrail.

Smith, who sits on RTM’s editorial board, is Crossrail’s operations director.

Wolstenholme touched on the rolling stock procurement for the new Class 345 trains, and the train operations, giving this timetable in his presentation:

OJEU notice issued – March 2013
Pre-qualify 3 – 5 bidders – June 2013
Bids received – January 2014
Supplier selected – September 2014
Concession commences – May 2015
Operates Liverpool St services – 2015 – 2018
Introduces new rolling stock – 2017 – 2019
Operates new Crossrail routes – 2018 – onwards
Concession renewed – 2023 - 2025

He also gave an update on the Wallasea Island wildlife sanctuary for the RSPB, which is making use of the 6.5m cubic metres of spoil from the Crossrail tunnelling.

Billions of pounds worth of work

Crossrail is now 36% complete, having spent £4bn and awarded direct contracts worth £5.5bn.

More than 1,700 businesses have already secured work on the project, 42% of which have been large businesses and 58% SMEs. 62% have been based outside London, though 95% are ‘on-shore’ UK companies.

Another 75,000 business opportunities remain. Wolsenholme said: “There’s an awful lot of work.

“In two or three years, we’ll need to let to the second, third and fourth tier suppliers, many of whom I suspect are here today [at Railtex]. You will get an idea as to how your organisations from this industry will fit into the Crossrail programme.”

He explained the behaviours and commitments expected of suppliers working on Crossrail, saying: “What I will be judged on – what this programme and this industry will be judged on – is whether 24 trains per hour will arrive with world-class train operations and world-class passenger service in 2018.

“We have five years of a huge programme to manage between now and then, and I’m personally very keen to make sure we understand, as a supply chain, how not ‘what you do’ but ‘how you behave’ is something [very important].”

Describing the role of apprentices and young unemployed people on the project, Wolstenholme told the audience: “Do not be surprised, if you win work, or are awarded work on Crossrail, to find yourself part of this sort of programme with these sort of commitments.

“We’re very proud of it. You’ll be asked to get involved in local community projects, for example.”

Wolstenholme concluded: “We’re well within our funding envelope, we’re on time.

“I want to leave a legacy for the industry.

“It’s very unlikely that we’re going to deliver this safely on budget by 2018 unless between us we share best practice, share current and future ideas.”

The other major rail project…

Not to be outdone, HS2 also updated the Railtex audience on upcoming opportunities for rail and engineering businesses.

Beth West, HS2 Ltd Commercial Director, explained that procurement for construction is expected to start in 2014, and that procurement for property development partners is also anticipated in 2014-15.

She said the company is determined to use collaborative working and to reduce the cost of non-value adding activities and increase productivity through risk sharing, co-location of staff and avoiding ‘man marking’.

The HS2 website will soon be updated with more information for potential suppliers to the project.

Her full presentation is available online at www.railtex.co.uk/railtex/project-updatetheatre/#hs2


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