To co-ordinate and execute Europe’s biggest infrastructure project to date has required an entirely new method of working, say JOHN BARKER, JONATHAN MORRIS and MIKE LAWS of Transcend
RAIL finds out how the Transcend Joint Venture helped to co-ordinate and execute Crossrail.
On May 15, 2009 Crossrail broke ground
when the then-Secretary of State for Transport Lord Adonis and Mayor of London Boris Johnson drove the first pile into the North Dock on the site of the new Canary Wharf station, scheduled to open in December 2018.
Although this marked the official start of the physical work, it could only happen after a phase of intensive preparatory work, which was triggered by the granting of Royal Assent for the Crossrail Act the previous July.
One of Crossrail Ltd’s key tasks during that time had been to appoint both a Programme Partner and a separate Programme Delivery Partner (PDP), to ensure the successful delivery of Europe’s largest infrastructure project.
The PDP was a consortium led by Bechtel (see p58-59 and p70-71), while the Programme Partner was confirmed in March 2009 as a joint venture called Transcend, comprising member firms AECOM, The Nichols Group and CH2M (see panel) supported by Turner & Townsend and Unipart. Programme Partner lead and AECOM’s Crossrail and Transportation Director John Barker explains: “We aim to help Crossrail Ltd be a more effective client. From the outset, it was a strategic role to help Crossrail Ltd come up with its overall delivery strategy, and to help manage control at programme level. This included managing the interface with the programme sponsors, third parties and other key stakeholders, and support with other critical work before
Collaboration is critical to success for Crossrail. John Barker, Programme Partner lead, AECOM
the major construction contracts were awarded.”
Now fully integrated with the client organisation, each Partner has continued to lead in the areas for which they previously held responsibility, adds Barker.
“As Programme Partner we have recognised the importance of a very collaborative approach to enable Crossrail to achieve its objectives and operate as it needs to.”
“The way the Programme Partner role has manifested is that we now deploy people who work across a range of functions in the integrated client management team - for example, in the programme controls function, where key people are responsible for reporting, scheduling and cost and risk management. We also deploy senior people across the technical directorate, including engineering management, quality assurance, technical integration and regulatory approvals. We’ve also taken a key role in providing support in other areas such as the Innovation Programme and logistics teams, thereby providing specialists across a diverse range of important disciplines.”
Earlier this year Transcend achieved a significant milestone having contributed 1,000,000 work hours to the project, with some people still in continuous service since the commencement of the original Programme Partner contract in 2009.
Mike Laws, of CH2M and Crossrail Ltd’s Head of Reporting and Head of Programme Efficiency, explains that the three joint venture partners had come together for their considerable and complementary skill sets, providing a balanced capability offering, chosen by Crossrail.
“The joint venture recognised the strength of engineering in AECOM, the Programme management expertise of CH2M, and the strategic advice specialism and industry authority of The Nichols Group. We came together to create the Transcend joint venture.”
“AECOM was brought in for its experience on major railway projects from across the world, and to bring its engineering knowledge to Crossrail. CH2M was preferred because of its knowledge of programme controls in particular, Nichols was selected for its strategic and programme management expertise and extensive knowledge of the UK rail industry.”
Barker adds: “The motivation of working on such an inspirational project has really driven the collaborative spirit and the willingness to work together on all the teams.”
“As businesses, we’ve learned a huge number of lessons, but on a personal level, one of the biggest things I’ve learned from Crossrail is that collaboration is critical to success. We have prided ourselves since day one on our willingness to work well, not just with our own Transcend colleagues, but with everyone in the integrated team and beyond, challenging each other and respecting each other in pursuit of common goals.”
“Infrastructure programmes in the UK are growing in scale, and that’s encouraging companies to form joint ventures due to the demands for a wide range of skill sets and resources. So you need joint ventures to form with strong breadth and depth, like Transcend, but they can only be successful with collaboration among themselves and with the client. We are very proud of the relationship we’ve had with each other and Crossrail Ltd, its partners and stakeholders, and the motivation of our staff to make it the huge success it has been to date. We now have to see it over the line.”
The Transcend team will continue to support the Programme during its remaining stages while the stations are completed and through the commissioning of the railway’s operational systems. The finished railway will then be handed over to Transport for London next summer, before the new tunnelled section opens to the first revenue-earning passenger services as the Elizabeth Line in December 2018.
Jonathan Morris, of The Nichols Group and Crossrail’s Programme Integration Manager, concludes: “With the Programme nearly 85% complete, we are now in the complex final stages as we integrate the new stations, tunnels and rail systems into a coherent, safe, functioning, end to end railway.
“Work includes the testing of the railway that has been built, preparing for its handover to the operators, and handling the governance that will allow us to transition from a construction programme to an operational railway. Transcend is very heavily involved in all of those areas, and making sure all remaining milestones are successfully completed.”
Newly installed track between Royal Oak portal and Paddington.