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Crossrail 2 gets more design time to avoid cost hikes

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Crossrail 2’s commercial head has said more design time will be spent on the project to avoid the delays and cost overruns suffered by the first scheme.

Simon Adams , who is involved in planning the strategy for the proposed north-south rail link across London, said construction had started too early on the original – and now heavily delayed – £17.6 billion scheme.

According to the AJ’s sister publication Construction News: ‘On Crossrail 2 we are certainly going to spend more time on the front end and design in more detail and then contract in a way that has the long-term interests of the client at heart rather than the short-term interests of the contractors.’

The Crossrail scheme’s contracting approach meant firms were incentivised to ensure delivery of their own package of works above all else, according to the commercial chief.

‘What we saw was with a fairly immature design and a very aggressive incentive mechanism, which was an unlimited 50:50 pain/gain mechanism.

‘Contractors naturally looked to protect themselves and their individual exposure rather than collaborating to solve problems,’ he told the UK Infrastructure Policy and Investment Summit.

Even with more design time and a different incentive mechanism Crossrail 2 would still come with risks, he warned.

‘The reality with all these mega projects is they’re of a scale and complexity where no matter how hard you work at the front end you’re going to carry risk into the project and you’re not going to be able to pass that risk to a single entity,’ he said.

Crossrail 2 will be around twice the scale of Crossrail 1, with a budget of around £30 billion and 70km of tunnels running north to south compared to 42km of tunnels on the east-west line.

When and if the project will go ahead is uncertain, but Adams acknowledged its progress will likely be slowed by the first scheme’s problems.

‘I would be pretending if I said that Crossrail 1 isn’t going to have an impact on the start of Crossrail 2,’ he said.

Revenue previously earmarked for Crossrail 2 has been diverted to complete the Heathrow to Shenfield west section of Crossrail, it was announced last year.

London deputy mayor Heidi Alexander has said talks will be held with the government in the summer to determine how the second Crossrail line will be funded.

Adams said once Crossrail was complete, the path for Crossrail 2 would be smoother.

‘What we first need to understand is what the likely timescales on Crossrail are going to be,’ he said, ‘and I think once that all settles down and people start to see that come into operation and start to see the real benefits that it’s delivering, then I honestly believe we’ll see a real clamour to see Crossrail 2 get out of the blocks.”

A schedule with a range of dates for the complete opening of Crossrail is currently being agreed by the project’s board.

A worst-case scenario could see the final opening delayed until spring 2021, according to reports.

 

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