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PM meets the team who tunnelled Crossrail

5 June 2015

Yesterday, prime minister David Cameron and London mayor Boris Johnson went 40 metres underground to meet some of the 10,000 people currently working on Crossrail, including 450 apprentices, at an event to mark the completion of 42km of its 6.2 metre diameter tunnels.

The focus on the £14.8bn east-west railway will now shift to the task of fitting out the tunnels, constructing 10 new Crossrail stations and on works above ground west of Paddington and east of Stratford stations.

Cameron said: “Crossrail is an incredible feat of engineering that will help to improve the lives of working people in London and beyond. The project is a vital part of our long-term plan to build a more resilient economy by helping businesses to grow, compete and create jobs right along the supply chain.”

"Working on engineering projects like Crossrail offers amazing opportunities for women - we have women in roles project managing work on stations, and planning and scheduling complex engineering programme."

Linda Miller, Bechtel

Crossrail tunnelling began in the summer of 2012, ending at Farringdon this week with the breakthrough of tunnelling machine Victoria. The Crossrail programme is now 65% complete, and on time and budget.

Within the team at Bechtel, Crossrail’s delivery partner responsible for programme managing the delivery of the new railway line, Cameron met Linda Miller, a senior engineer and the project manager at Farringdon Station, who appeared on the recent BBC documentary, The £15 billion railway

Miller said: “Working on engineering projects like Crossrail offers amazing opportunities for women – we have women in roles project managing work on stations, and planning and scheduling complex engineering programmes. The nature and variety of work on projects like this makes engineering an immensely rewarding career.”

Ailie MacAdam, managing director for infrastructure, Europe and Africa, at Bechtel, one of the most senior engineers in the UK and formerly Bechtel’s project director on Crossrail, said: “Nearly 40% of our engineers working on Crossrail are female and bring different skill sets and dynamics to the team. They have masterminded some of the most complicated engineering work on Crossrail and without diverse teams we would not be where we are today.”

Ailie MacAdam: different skills

Only about 6% of the UK’s supply of engineers is female but Bechtel is bucking this trend, on Crossrail and also at the Vauxhall underground station upgrade, where 35% of the engineers (working for Bechtel and Transport for London) are female.

From now on, Bechtel’s 200-strong team of project managers and engineers will focus on the integration and completion of rail and station systems in advance of testing which will begin in 2017.

The first Crossrail services through central London will start in late 2018. An estimated 200 million annual passengers will use Crossrail. The line will increase capacity of London’s passenger rail network by 10% and dramatically reduce journey times across the city.

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