'Invitation only' process for Crossrail 2 tenders

Exclusive: US engineers have been particularly successful in winning the country’s biggest programme and project management jobs

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The Independent Online

The cream of British and US engineering has been quietly asked to bid for a contract that will kick-start Crossrail 2, the proposed £12bn Hertfordshire-to-Surrey link that would run through London.

The first contract to be awarded on Crossrail 2 will include design work on the link between the north and south of the capital. Although it is a relatively small contract it is considered an important pitch to win as it could help persuade Transport for London and Network Rail to award the winner a later, more lucrative role helping to oversee the entire project.

Big British names invited to pitch include WS Atkins, which has designed station interiors for the £16bn first Crossrail link, which is under construction; Arup, which masterminded the route for the Channel Tunnel rail link; and the US-based Parsons Brinckerhoff, which is in the process of being sold by Balfour Beatty.

US engineers have been particularly successful in winning the country’s biggest programme and project management jobs in recent years and they will like their chances of landing this deal. California’s Aecom and Denver-based CH2M Hill, both of which also have roles on the first Crossrail, are pitching.

Aecom has previously signalled its interest in Crossrail 2 in a working paper that asked, and then answered: “So what does London’s transportation system need to fight congestion and maintain its position at the top of the premier league of World Cities? For many informed observers, the answer is Crossrail 2.”

Transport for London, which is sponsoring Crossrail 2 alongside Network Rail, invited companies that were already on an existing framework agreement earlier this month. This means that TfL does not have to go through a prolonged public procurement process involving pre-selection of engineers, but instead can simply invite them to bid without proving their credentials.

The current contract is thought to be worth only a few million pounds, but the future of Crossrail 2 appears to be fairly secure given the relative success of the first stage. The west-to-east project has been managed smoothly, despite opposition to its construction before it received Royal Asset in Parliament six years ago.

An industry source said: “A lot of the big American firms are interested in this. They see it as a good way in to winning bigger jobs on Crossrail 2.”

The deal is another meaty opportunity in an industry that is awash with bid processes at the moment. Yesterday, the team behind the much criticised High Speed Two rail line released £10bn worth of tenders, including £2.9bn of tunnelling work and £2.6bn for stations.