The Carillion Eiffage Kier Joint Venture (JV) bid for four of the main civils works lots – C2 & C3 (the Chilterns) and S1 & S2 (Euston tunnels). The JV was successful on the C2 & C3 lots which were valued at circa £2.7bn. These lots cover approximately 80km and run from the Chilterns to Warwickshire. They include 15 viaducts, 5km of green tunnels, 67 overbridges and 30 million cubic metres of excavation. The civils works effectively create the route for the railway. The track, systems and stations are separate projects.
I joined the project in 2016 at the start of the main bidding phase as Bid Director. I was responsible for coordinating and leading the Joint Venture to secure at least one package of work.
I’m not a civil or rail engineer, so what could I possibly know? It was daunting at the start. Working with senior directors from each of the partners who had incredible experience. People from Kier with stories of tunnelling under the RAC club in London and having to check the water level in the pool. People from Eiffage who led and commissioned vast high-speed projects across France and had built the Millau Viaduct. The answer to my question was simple really – do what I’m good at – help define and crystallise the strategy, challenge everything, collaborate, keep the team together, focus on the goal, drive the quality up.
It worked, we won two lots, and were second on the tunnel lots. Being a massive enthusiast for rail travel, railways and stations helped. The composition of the team was interesting – it was one of the most diverse teams I have worked in (apart from the NHS) with women leading on some critical engineering elements. Not sure I enjoyed trying to upload two gargantuan submissions at the same time – for the C2 & C3 central lots and then the S1 & S2 tunnels lots. That was an experience I won’t forget in a hurry.
I went back in 2018 at the invitation of Eiffage to carry out a review of the project. It was a great chance to catch up and see how the project was developing.