Experiences from Eurotunnel. Impact on the Current Cross Rail Programme Management

Program & Project Management

Term Paper 2013 11 Pages

Economy - Transport Economics



Mega-infrastructure networks are highly complex, costly, challenging to conceive and develop and have long lasting substantial direct development impacts on economies, communities and institutions at the local, regional, national and international level. The report is an evaluation of lessons learned from Eurotunnel Project and their applicability and relevance to the ongoing Crossrail development. An integration of assessment and case study methodology is used in the research. Results identify key learning points from the Eurotunnel project as; effective governance mechanism, proper reporting system, fast decision making, and good stakeholder management. Principal negative aspects of the Eurotunnel project include; lack of strong client sponsorship, poor relationship between suppliers and clients, multiple disputes and claims, and poor forecasting and planning. Key recommendations to the ongoing Crossrail project include; establishment of an efficient team, crafting an effective governance mechanism, establishing an explicit communication strategy, clear identification of targets and ensuring an excellent non-adversarial client-supplier culture.

Methods and Data/Results

The report evaluates the lessons learned from the Eurotunnel project and their applicability and relevance to the ongoing Crossrail project. Large projects spanning many years are often faced with multiple foreseeable and unforeseeable risks which can be mitigated by borrowing from the experiences of other related projects. Given the complex stakeholder environment for Crossrail, it is vitally important to ensure excellent project management, client governance, proper communications and appropriate reporting throughout the project lifecycle. The Eurotunnel project and Crossrail have a lot in common such as wide range of stakeholders, significant public and political interest, numerous interfaces and significant financial costs. The report uses an integration of assessment and case study methodology to identify and evaluate both the positive and the negative experiences that can be drawn from the Eurotunnel project and applied in Crossrail.

The report is basically a summary, synthesis and critique of existing literature on both the Eurotunnel and the Crossrail projects. Publicly available information from books, reports, journal articles, reviews, independent expert opinions and case studies of relevance to Crossrail and Eurotunnel are used in the study. Primary results indicate that, Crossrail can learn and borrow from the strong benefits of having a simple, straightforward governance structure, which was a key determinant of the Eurotunnel success. Good, transparent, all inclusive stakeholder management process is also an identified key contributor to Eurotunnel’s success. A negative lesson that can be learnt from Channel Tunnel’s experience the relationships between the suppliers and the client was adversarial and poorly conceived. This resulted in time delays and multiple claims for additional payment. Primary recommendations are that Crossrail should focus on having a lean, efficient and effective management team. The team must also have clear targets and that the communication strategies must be well structured and planned throughout the project life cycle.

Introduction and Literature Survey


Physical mega infrastructure networks are often, highly complex, costly and have long lasting substantial direct development impacts on economies, communities and institutions at the local, regional, national and international levels. Due to the complexity of such projects with multiple risks, uncertainties and challenges, professional programme and project management is critical to ensuring their success. An innovative research by OMEGA Center recommended that, new or ongoing megaprojects can save valuable time and financial resources by learning from previous projects’ practices and experiences (Nuno and Lundrigan, 2013: p.1). Crossrail project is currently Europe’s largest and most complex infrastructure program with several concurrently running composite construction projects across the entire route. Consequently, it is imperative that Crossrail project managers, planners, engineers and other stakeholders borrow critical lessons from the Eurotunnel project which was completed and officially opened in 1994.

The Eurotunnel Project

The proposal to build a channel that linked the United Kingdom and France were first anticipated in the mid 19th Century. Nonetheless, the Eurotunnel project was formally initiated in 1979 when the European Channel Tunnel Group instigated studies to evaluate the possibility and feasibility of such a project. A competition organized by the British and French governments in 1985 resulted into four main project proposals: Eurotunnel, a rail shuttle service for road vehicles having provisions for through trains; Europoint, a suspended bridge, Transmanche Express comprising of four bored tunnels allowing both road and rail traffics and Euroroute a bridge-tunnel-bridge hybrid solution. The agreement to build and operate the project was jointly awarded to Channel tunnel Group and France-Manche (which later merged to form Eurotunnel) on January, 20th 1986 (Hayward, 1995: p. 234).

Project Organization and Management

The project was managed by Eurotunnel (ET) a bi-national corporation formed by the French and British companies, France Manche and Channel Tunnel Group respectively. ET is the project’s sole owner and operator following a March 1986 Concession Agreement in which it was awarded the contract for 65 years by the French and UK governments. The venture is supervised by the bi-national Intergovernmental Commission on behalf of both the two governments. The commission has a Safety Authority wing which supervises all designs, procedures, specifications and construction procedures including all environmental, safety and operational issues. The Transmanche Link (TML) is the contractor responsible for the initial design, construction and commissioning of the project. TML is a joint venture linking a total of five French and five British companies with track records and international experiences in tunnelling and other forms of engineering works. The project’s complexity is further evident in its financing which involved a pool of 203 global private financial institutions (Miles, 1995: p. 46).

The backbone of the project’s success is rooted on its design procedure. The project’s design included four phases: the Development Study, Outline Design, Definitive Design and the Final Detailed Design. Initial functional studies, civil/electro-mechanical design and construction all overlapped since the project had a strict deadline. In order to coordinate all aspects of design and construction, engineering management concentrated on running a central TML organization. Due to the huge volume and diversity of the design and implementation workload, parts of the project were subcontracted to major independent consultants and contractors across the UK (Miles, 1995: p. 46).

The project was fast-tracked, with the design, construction and commissioning taking place within a period of eight years. The 150 kilometers of tunnelling had to be completed within a period of four years, fixed equipment installation within two years after breakthrough and ultimate commissioning and rolling stock within one year. With the massive bi-national human resource challenge, the contractors had to create and organize TML, employ 13,000 individuals with varying degree of skills and experience and launch 11 TBMs with their logistics. The project management ensured that each task such as design, installation of fixed equipment, civil works, and commissioned widely overlapped (Hayward, 1995: p. 234).

The tunnelling, which was one of the most challenging part of the construction, was sustained by temporary ventilation, water, power, drainage, monitoring and communication systems. These were ultimately replaced with permanent ones of comparable capacities but totally different concepts redesigned from the lessons learnt from the operation of the provisional ones (Miles, 1995: p. 46). The project’s construction objective was to be able to transfer motorway traffic onto a new rail system through a specially designed airport sized terminals, which are partly train stations and partly motorways.

This was to be done in minimum transit time in an environment which comprised of shuttle travelling on high speed, confined tunnel environment, high speed mixed traffic rail network and with strict security, safety and operational criteria. This meant that tasks such as the integration between works and transport equipment and rolling stock which took account of complex safety procedures had to be achieved in record time. At the completion, the project also had to support the largest real-time data with the capacity to manage shuttles travelling at trains speeds with three minutes between different trains (Miles, 1995: p. 46).

The Crossrail Project

Crossrail project is also a complex construction project of magnitude comparable to the Eurotunnel project. Upon completion, expected in 2018-2019, Crossrail will carry an estimated 200 million passengers yearly, increasing the London’s transport capacity by over 10%. The complex project includes the construction of eight new underground stations to be connected to the already existing London underground rail networks and four over ground spurs. Upon completion, it will comprise of 42 kilometers of tunnels weaving between existing underground lines, foundations, utility tunnels and sewers at a depth of up to 40 meters below the City of London, one of global major metropolis (Great Britain, 2010). The project is not only complex, but also involves a series of other major infrastructure initiatives and delivery partners including Docklands Light Railway, Berkely Homes, Network Rail, London Underground and Canary Wharf Group. Each of the identified individual initiatives has their own contractors, engineers and suppliers and must work seamlessly together to complete the project on time, on budget with minimal disruptions (London First, 2013).



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experiences eurotunnel impact current cross rail programme management program project




Title: Experiences from Eurotunnel. Impact on the Current Cross Rail Programme Management