Thanks to bipartisan support, London’s $24-billion government-sponsored Crossrail project seems to have a secure future even as public spending cuts loom. Having already signed up all the design teams, Transport for London’s project company, Crossrail Ltd., is now procuring the last tunneling contract.
The project includes 21 kilometers of twin tunnels under central London. Crossrail Ltd. set a March 24 deadline for firms to lodge prequalification bids for a contract covering twin 2.6-km-long drives. It has already short-listed five international consortiums to bid for two other tunnel contracts and will award contracts this summer.
The main opposition Conservative Party recently threw its weight behind the project, as it prepares for government elections by early this May.The London Assembly this month gave cross-party support to the project. However, the assembly’s transportation committee questioned why London would foot over half the bill while the project’s economic benefits would be national. Apart from a government grant of about $7.6 billion, Londoners and companies in the city will fund the project.
Crossrail will stretch 118 km to link counties on either side of London. It will boost the city’s railroad capacity by 10% when completed in 2017. To help supply the project with skilled workers, Crossrail Ltd. is setting up a training center called the Tunnel Academy to train around 3,000 people by 2015.