51°27'1"N | 0°58'31"W

Crossrail, England Overview

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

Better train lines for London 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.

By the numbers

  • 73 miles (118 kilometers) worth of track, installed and upgraded
  • 1.5 million new riders
  • 10 percent more passenger capacity
  • 95 percent of construction materials reused and recycled.


tunnel boring machine crossrailCrossrail 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, it is expected to eliminate more than 300 million vehicle miles (nearly 485 million kilometers) each year, significantly easing congestion in and around London. 

Further, the system is a boon to the area 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

Inside the project

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.

© Image courtesy of Crossrail.

Years of careful study, planning, and ground-reinforcement efforts have minimized any risk of ground settlement affecting buildings and infrastructure above the tunnels. In fact, more than 2000 structures above the new twin-bore tunnel running beneath central London were monitored for stability. Major utility relocations have also 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.

David Cameron: "An Engineering Triumph" 

Raising the bar with sustainable design

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. 


Benchmarking for the future

Bechtel has managed Crossrail’s adoption of two widely recognized sustainable design and construction assessment methods and accreditations:

  • Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM)—the UK standard for best practice in low-carbon and low-environmental-impact design, construction, and operation.
  • Civil Engineering Environmental Quality (CEEQUAL)—a comprehensive sustainability rating system for assessing environmental, economic, and social performance.

The Crossrail project represents the first time that the BREEAM standard has been applied to evaluate underground stations, and it is establishing a benchmark for other stations. All of our station designs have achieved Very Good ratings under BREEAM, and our tunnels, portals, and shafts have attained an Excellent rating under CEEQUAL. Both of our completed structures have achieved a rating of Excellent under CEEQUAL.

Sustainabile construction

With more than 250 machines spread across nearly 40 construction sites, Bechtel and Crossrail achieved an 85 percent reduction in particulate emissions on Europe’s largest construction project. Through a combination of new engine performance standards, retrofitting of particulate controls, hybrid technologies, and training, the project has significantly reduced particulate emissions. 

Moreover, Crossrail was recognized as the first infrastructure project in the United Kingdom to adopt strict emissions controls across all of its work sites. It has also introduced newer, cleaner machines across London and encouraged suppliers to upgrade their equipment. The success of this program on Crossrail has helped to support the Greater London Authority’s intent for a wider- scale introduction of these controls

Reading station

reading station crossrail bechtel

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.

BBC coverage of Crossrail

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.