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Crossrail, England Overview

Scope of Work Project management
Value $22 billion
Schedule 2009–2018
Business Infrastructure

Better train lines for London commuters

The project team is constructing a new tunnel beneath central London, building 10 train stations, rebuilding or overhauling other stations, and upgrading track on a busy existing rail network.

These efforts will reduce transport headaches, easing travel congestion for hundreds of thousands of commuters.

Crossrail Ltd selected a Bechtel-led team as its project delivery partner for the central tunnelled section, as did Network Rail for the existing network upgrades. Our integrated teams manage the extensive engineering and construction programs to build a much needed new railway that will relieve riders of multiple train changes and excessive delays as they travel to and from the city center.

The project, which will also benefit freight carriers, has set new standards in sustainability practices. For example, as a result of collaboratively working with the Building Research Establishment (BRE) assessment criteria for environmental performance in underground stations has been developed, which had not previously existed. A first-of-a-kind Community Investment Programme was also put in place with legacy driven objectives. The team is also delivering many environmental mitigation initiatives such as transferring all 3 million tonnes of excavated material from tunneling to a new RSPB nature reserve at Wallasea Island in Essex.

Inside the Project

BBC Coverage of Crossrail

Watch the BBC’s Crossrail documentary featuring Bechtel’s Linda Miller, Gus Scott, Dave Shepherd and Jules Boyd.

Read the BBC feature story: Crossrail: The Monster Tunneling Under London's Streets.

Crossrail London Commuter Rail

One of the biggest challenge is tunneling. That includes 13 miles (21 kilometers) of tunnel beneath one of the Western world's oldest cities. Huge tunnel-boring machines have been chewing up earth around the clock, moving through ground that's honeycombed with networks of sewer lines, water and gas mains, foundations of buildings, and even some London Underground tunnels dating to the 1860s.

Years of careful study, planning, and ground-reinforcement efforts have minimized any risk of ground settlement affecting buildings and infrastructure above the tunnels.

Major utility relocations have been taking place all over London to protect vital services for residents and businesses.

Together with Crossrail, we are creating a comprehensive sustainability program that will become a benchmark for large-scale projects throughout the country.

Crossrail is having an immediate, positive impact on the London economy

Since 2009:

  • 97 percent of all Crossrail contracts have been awarded to UK companies
  • 75,000 new business opportunities have been created across the UK, enough work for 55,000 full-time jobs
  • 58 percent of contracts have been won by small and medium sized businesses (SME)
  • 86 percent of workers hired are from the boroughs of London
  • 62 percent of the project’s workers were previously unemployed
  • 3886 job starts
  • 446 apprentices

Recent Crossrail News

With sustainability in mind and working as an integrated team with Network Rail, Bechtel and its partners are upgrading the two busiest rail arteries into London and removing the bottleneck at Reading, one of the most critical rail hubs in Britain. 

Reading station North entrance

Uncorking a bottleneck

In Reading, an hour west of London, Bechtel and its customer, Network Rail, safely compressed 40 days of track, signaling, and station upgrade work into just 10 days, minimizing disruption and saving money.

It was the biggest track layout change in more than a century, and it relieved one of the worst railroad bottlenecks in the UK.


Number of structures above the new twin-bore tunnel running beneath central London to be monitored for stability.

Big benefits

  • 73 miles (118 kilometers) worth of track, installed and upgraded
  • 1.5 million new riders
  • 10 percent more passenger capacity

Why it Matters

To improve operating energy efficiency, the project team is

  • Reducing the weight of passenger cars
  • Setting targets to reduce energy consumption
  • Specifying regenerative braking
  • Placing smart controls in passenger cars for lighting, heating, and air-conditioning


Percentage of construction materials reused and recycled.

Sustainable design

  • 97 percent of demolished material from our sites was reused and recycled
  • 32 percent of construction material was derived from recycled material
  • Nearly 100 percent of excavated material was reused or recycled, either at Wallasea Island for a nature reserve or at other sites that are being restored to create agricultural land, nature reserves, and recreational facilities

LEGO boring machine, brick by brick

Bechtel built a moving replica of a tunnel boring machine from 50,000 LEGO bricks. The 6.5-foot- (2-meter-) long model shows all the components of a working tunnel boring machine and demonstrates how these mechanical moles dig and build tunnels all over the world. The model was created to celebrate Bechtel's involvement with FIRST LEGO League, an international robotics tournament for students ages 9 to 16.  

Inter workings of the London commuter railway

Dedicated to advancing the practice of sustainability, the Crossrail project team piloted the use of hybrid diesel-electric excavators, avoiding 101 tons of carbon by powering a noise monitor with hydrogen fuel cells, and relying on light-emitting diode (LED) lighting instead of traditional halogen lights to reduce energy consumption.

Layers of benefits

Crossrail will give some 1.5 million new riders easy access to the city of London, Canary Wharf, the West End, and Heathrow Airport.

When completed in 2018, it is expected to eliminate more than 300 million vehicle miles (nearly 485 million kilometers) each year, significantly easing congestion in and around London. 

Meanwhile, the project team is setting new standards for sustainability. For example, Bechtel set out to reduce the carbon emissions from construction by 5 percent—all without increasing costs.To date, we have cut emissions by nearly 10 percent.

Further, the system is a boon to the area economy.

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