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Examination of Witnesses

Part of High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 11th July 2013.

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Terry Morgan: I guess I have two answers to that. We are going through a huge learning curve. We have been short of extensive tunnelling work in the UK, so we set up the skills academy. For example, we needed 1,200 people with a certain skill set who could do this work, and in the UK there were 700, average age 55—this is three years ago. So we are trying to catch up. It is important to recognise that Crossrail should be just a journey. Other infrastructure projects critical to maintaining that capability in future will bring cost benefits to it.

I have to make a plea that, when making these comparisons, people do not underestimate the complexity of building a tunnel of the scale that we are building under an old city like London. It is hugely complex. On the other side, people from around the world coming to look at us cannot believe the scale of what we are taking on in London—and we are doing it. We have a showcase: under a city like London we can do things. We have not created gridlock across the city as we have been doing the work; there may be examples where there has been a  degree of intrusion, but we have learned some real techniques about how to build huge infrastructure projects in a great city like London.