With their bids coming in below original estimates, European and Irish contractors grabbed the lion’s share of nearly $2 billion in tunneling contracts to be let so far on London’s $23-billion Crossrail project. The four contracts are the first of nearly 30 that Crossrail officials expect to award in the next 11 months.
Bids below the original estimates were a positive development for project managers, who are striving to meet a trimmed budget mandated by recent government-enacted austerity measures. To date, an estimated $1.5 billion has been cut from the project’s original $25.3-billion budget, ensuring the project survives the U.K. government’s tough austerity drive, say officials. Value engineering and rescheduling of shaft and tunnel work contributed to the budget savings, says a spokesman with Crossrail Ltd., part of Transport for London. The changes will delay completion of the central section to 2018 from 2017. Crossrail still has to trim over $600 million to meet the government’s $23-billion budget target.