Bech­tel de­liv­ers

PAUL STEPHEN speaks to Bech­tel’s Bill Tucker and some of the global en­gi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion firm’s team de­liv­er­ing the cen­tral sec­tion of the El­iz­a­beth Line

Rail (UK) - - Crossrail -

Cross­rail’s Cen­tral Sec­tion De­liv­ery Direc­tor goes un­der the spot­light.

Bech­tel is a key player on the Cross­rail project and re­spon­si­ble for de­liv­er­ing 26 miles of tun­nels and eight of the ten new sta­tions that com­prise the cen­tral sec­tion of the El­iz­a­beth line. Ap­pointed as Cross­rail Ltd’s ap­pointed project de­liv­ery part­ner (PDP) in 2009 (with its nom­i­nated sub-con­sul­tants SYSTRA and Hal­crow), Bech­tel’s Bill Tucker (Cen­tral Sec­tion De­liv­ery Direc­tor), is part of the in­te­grated man­age­ment team (headed up by Cross­rail Ltd Pro­gramme Direc­tor Si­mon Wright). Tucker leads more than 600 peo­ple – nearly a quar­ter of them from Bech­tel, many of whom are in se­nior pro­gramme man­age­ment po­si­tions on the project. Bech­tel is also re­spon­si­ble for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Cross­rail Ltd’s de­liv­ery strat­egy, mak­ing sure there is equal fo­cus from con­trac­tors on achiev­ing its vi­sion and up­hold­ing its val­ues, such as health and safety, best prac­tice and re­spon­si­ble pro­cure­ment. Tucker’s team is also the main author­ity for the long list of con­trac­tors work­ing on Europe’s largest con­struc­tion project.

Tucker tells RAIL: “We sit here to­day with the Cross­rail project 83% com­plete, and the fact we’re on track for the cen­tral sec­tion to open in De­cem­ber 2018, is a big suc­cess which we are not tak­ing for granted. There were al­ways go­ing to be huge chal­lenges on a project that’s as big and com­plex as build­ing be­neath cen­tral Lon­don. We are manag­ing an enor­mous num­ber of de­sign and con­struc­tion con­tracts and our job is to co­or­di­nate all of them and make sure they all work in uni­son for one sin­gle pro­gramme. There have been more than 150 sep­a­rate con­tracts to man­age from the first stages of de­mo­li­tion through to fi­nal com­mis­sion­ing, but Cross­rail Ltd views the project as one rail­way, so we’ve had to iden­tify and man­age all those in­ter­faces and li­aise with in­dus­try stake­hold­ers.” Tucker, who has been work­ing at Cross­rail from the first day of the de­liv­ery part­ner con­tract says: “We’ve worked re­ally hard to in­te­grate the team and em­body Cross­rail’s vi­sion of work­ing as one, while bring­ing Bech­tel’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties and ex­pe­ri­ence”. We try and find the right per­son for the job, as op­posed to say­ing ‘one com­pany is re­spon­si­ble for this, and an­other firm is re­spon­si­ble for that”.

Bech­tel has been helped by one or two in­no­va­tive, mo­ti­va­tional de­vices to emerge from the PDP part­ners’ tool­kit. “As a team, we’ve helped Cross­rail de­velop a per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem that uses lead­ing in­di­ca­tors ev­ery six months to check if con­trac­tors are mak­ing ex­tra ef­fort. It’s a very new con­cept to the in­dus­try. Putting a per­for­mance league ta­ble in front of a room of direc­tors can have some amaz­ing ef­fects. So I’d say that mea­sur­ing per­for­mance in this way has proved to be very mo­ti­va­tional! I wasn’t sure about us­ing it at first, as I was wor­ried it was yet an­other au­dit on com­pa­nies. But I can now say it is a col­lab­o­ra­tive and forward-think­ing way of boost­ing per­for­mance and out­puts. It’s also proved use­ful to the con­trac­tors, who have started us­ing the rank­ings as a sales pitch. We’ve shared this tool with other or­gan­i­sa­tions, such as Lon­don Un­der­ground and HS2 Ltd, to use for their own projects.”

Turn­ing back to Cross­rail, Tucker says that the most pleas­ing as­pect of lead­ing the man­age­ment team has been suc­cess­fully re­solv­ing prob­lems, rather than try­ing to

avoid them. Much of the work took place un­der­ground, away from the public gaze but he points to the above ground­works at places like Whitechapel. Cross­rail’s new sta­tion is be­ing built there, above fully op­er­a­tional Lon­don Over­ground and Un­der­ground plat­forms and Tucker high­lights it as a good ex­am­ple of suc­cess­ful risk mit­i­ga­tion and li­ai­son with in­dus­try stake­hold­ers.

“I could prob­a­bly list ten things we’ve en­coun­tered along the way where you might say ‘this is daunt­ing’ but where you rel­ish the chal­lenge. At Whitechapel, we’ve had to work around pas­sen­gers and on top of op­er­a­tional rail­ways, mostly at night, in the Lon­don Un­der­ground and Over­ground net­works. I’m re­ally pleased that we’ve been able to over­come a num­ber of is­sues, par­tic­u­larly when they’ve in­volved things we didn’t ex­pect, such as un­mapped util­i­ties. Had we been less dili­gent, things like that could have had an ad­verse im­pact on the pro­gramme. But we han­dled them, and now we are close to com­plet­ing the sta­tion struc­tures, which feels spec­tac­u­lar.”

Tak­ing a mo­ment to re­flect on the last eight years as part of the in­te­grated pro­gramme man­age­ment team, Tucker says that Bech­tel will emerge from the project a stronger com­pany, hav­ing shared a wealth of new ex­pe­ri­ence. He says it has been one of the high­lights of Bech­tel’s seven decades in the UK - not in­signif­i­cant con­sid­er­ing some of the com­pany’s other in­fras­truc­ture jobs have in­cluded High Speed 1, West Coast Route Mod­erni­sa­tion and even the Chan­nel Tun­nel, while its legacy has been to per­ma­nently change how large in­fras­truc­ture projects are de­liv­ered across the in­dus­try.

He con­cludes: “Cross­rail is the first client I’ve worked with that puts so much fo­cus on how things are done, as well as what is be­ing done, and I learned a lot from that ap­proach. The strat­egy in­cludes so many de­tails about lim­it­ing dis­rup­tion to other peo­ple, pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and tack­ling diver­sity in the work­force. 40% of Bech­tel’s engi­neers on this job are women. Cross­rail has sup­ported a new gen­er­a­tion of British women engi­neers, some of whom are still here, some who have moved on to other UK jobs and some who are now work­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally on other Bech­tel mega projects.”

Paul Gibbs, Bech­tel In­fras­truc­ture’s UK Manag­ing Direc­tor and a for­mer Project Man­ager at Bond Street sta­tion, adds: “At Bech­tel we en­gi­neer, con­struct, project man­age and fi­nance big in­fras­truc­ture around the world and I’ve been for­tu­nate to work on a num­ber of in­cred­i­ble projects. The Cross­rail project is spe­cial to us and to me; I was PM at Bond Street sta­tion from 2010 to 2012 and to come back now and see the progress made is a real priv­i­lege.”

Look­ing at how lessons and skills learned have been ex­ported from the Cross­rail project to the ben­e­fit of the global rail and en­gi­neer­ing com­mu­nity, Tucker adds: “To test this ap­proach away from Cross­rail, a sub­set of Bech­tel’s Cross­rail team went to Canada to help an­other project (the Toronto-York Spad­ina Sub­way ex­ten­sion), to en­able that client to lever­age some of the things we’ve done for Cross­rail. Bech­tel has also re­cently been awarded a project de­liv­ery con­tract for the Syd­ney Metro, and peo­ple in­volved in the Cross­rail project will be go­ing there too; I’m very happy that Cross­rail Ltd is sup­port­ive of shar­ing the lessons learned in Lon­don. This will only serve to de­velop the rail­way in­dus­try do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally. I tell peo­ple if you want to build some­thing big, it doesn’t get any bet­ter than the El­iz­a­beth Line.”


Paul Gibbs, Manag­ing Direc­tor Bech­tel In­fras­truc­ture UK, and Bill Tucker, Cross­rail Cen­tral Sec­tion De­liv­ery Direc­tor, Bech­tel.


The steel frame for Whitechapel sta­tion ticket hall is be­ing in­stalled above op­er­a­tional plat­forms for Lon­don Over­ground and Un­der­ground. The sig­nif­i­cant level of risk man­age­ment and stake­holder en­gage­ment re­quired here rep­re­sents one the Cross­rail project de­liv­ery part­ners’ great­est chal­lenges, but also suc­cesses, says Bech­tel’s Bill Tucker.

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