Tunnel link boss waits for offer to mastermind Crossrail project

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The Independent Online

Rob Holden, the 52-year-old behind the high-speed Channel Tunnel extension, will be approached to run the £16bn Crossrail project, which finally received government backing last week.

Sources say Mr Holden, chief of London & Continental Railways (LCR), will soon be asked formally about the role. The move comes two months after headhunters contacted him over the forthcoming chairmanship vacancy at Network Rail.

Mr Holden will be asked to become chief executive of Cross London Rail Links (CLRL), the company in charge of the Heathrow-to-Essex project first mooted two decades ago. CLRL, which is now being reorganised, is advertising for four non-executive and three executive directors to oversee the seven-year building programme.

CLRL is to become a subsidiary of Transport for London, suggesting the approach to Mr Holden will be made by theoffice of Mayor Boris Johnson. It is unclear whether Doug Oakervee, the 68-year-old executive chairman, will have a role in the restructured CLRL.

A source said: "Rob is pretty certain to take the job, if he is the man in charge. It is unlikely he will work in an equal role to Doug as [Mr Oakervee's] age is against him. Rob has a 12-month notice period at LCR, but that is something that will be negotiable."

Mr Holden has been widely praised for his work at LCR, which opened the £5.8bn Channel Tunnel rail link extension and the spectacular revamp of St Pancras station last year. Industry sources were astonished that LCR was not automat-ically given control of Crossrail, as it has the only assembled group of people with experience of a project of this type and scale.

Crossrail is likely to be managed by CLRL working with a private sector partner. CH2M Hill and Bechtel, the American construction giants that have been advising Crossrail, will be among those vying for the role.

Madani Sow, chairman of the British arm of the French builder Bouygues, has said he is interested in constructing parts of the Crossrail project.

Mr Holden declined to comment.

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