Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 10260 - 10279)

  10260. Tell me, when are you going to let the contract for Crossrail, if you achieve Royal Assent?
  (Mr Berryman) For the construction?

  10261. Yes.
  (Mr Berryman) It will not be a contract; it will be a whole series of contracts. If we can achieve that suite of agreements which are needed by the end of this year, as you have just described, we would be expecting to let the contracts towards the end of 2009 with work to start in 2010.

  10262. Now, if you are going to be finalising the contracts in 2009 you are going to have to reach a decision pretty quickly, are you not, as to whether you are going to be including the Heathrow access, that 170 million or so, or not? Decisions have got to be made very fast, have they not?
  (Mr Berryman) They have. In the case of the Heathrow access which is particularly relevant, the suite of agreements that I talked about includes an agreement for Crossrail to use the Heathrow Express track work and for a financial contribution to be made by BAA, so we would expect that that would be one of those agreements which is made later this year, and once that agreement is made then, yes, we would be letting a contract for construction of these works. I think it might be worth just mentioning that the intention is that Network Rail, who are the infrastructure manager already on the Great Western and the Great Eastern would actually take responsibility for the management of those contracts on our behalf.

  10263. I am not concerned at the present moment with management: I am sure EWS will be concerned about who is managing but that is not my point. This flexibility which has been dangled before the Committee as a reason for not giving us our undertakings is a flexibility which is only going to remain for a very short while, because someone has to decide what is to be in the project so that there can be the necessary competitive tendering and so forth for the contract, is that not right?
  (Mr Berryman) Yes, certainly in that case it is absolutely right. In some of the other cases, of course, the works are much more modest. But I put it to you the other way round. Would there be any point in us building the Heathrow flyover if we could only get consent to run no trains, or two trains an hour perhaps, down the Heathrow branch, and two trains an hour would be the same as the existing Heathrow Connect service? Clearly, until we have made that agreement there is no point committing to build something. What I can tell you is if we do make that agreement we will be building the Heathrow access flyover or something very similar, subject to detailed design.

  10264. But BAA are not even here petitioning on that matter; you are working on a consensual basis with them.
  (Mr Berryman) We are in negotiation with them about that matter, as to use of their track work.

  10265. I am grateful, Mr Berryman. I know others have questions but I am not going to trespass any longer on their Lordships' time.

Cross-examined by LORD BERKELEY

  10266. LORD BERKELEY: Thank you, my Lord Chairman, for allowing me to come back. Mr Berryman, can we look first at the cost sheet we have been given? Looking at the four what you might call cheaper schemes, Chadwell Heath, West Ealing, Hanwell Bridge and West Drayton, total cost £145 million, it is my understanding these are basically single or double pieces of track with sets of points at each end, is that correct?

  (Mr Berryman) Not quite. Certainly that is the case at Chadwell Heath. Also, it is a single piece of track with points at both ends, about 750m long with overhead electrification and some culverts and such like which need to be remedied in that area. West Ealing is a single branch with just a single end and a new platform refurbishment and so on, and West Drayton is a combination of those things. I think you are aware, as you are a civil engineer yourself, I know, Lord Berkeley, that the works particularly on railways are made much more complicated and expensive by the stageworks which have to be done. In other words, you have to move a bit from here to here before you can do something over there, and that is what brings the costs into some of these relatively simple works.

  10267. Can I invite you to compare these costs with a cost estimate with Network Rail that the rail freight industry did a few months ago to create a very similar loop up near Daventry to mitigate the effect of West Coast Main Line perturbations which came out at £4 million. You are not going to paint these rails out of gold or anything, are you? It does seem very expensive.
  (Mr Berryman) One of the features of projects in the United Kingdom over the last 30 or so years has been that they have significant cost overruns, and one reason for that is frequently the budget costs are too low. I spent my formative years in Hong Kong where we brought everything in on budget and I noticed that one of the features of the Hong Kong system was that adequate budgets were set in the first place, so we have regarded it—I regard it personally and the company regards it—as very important to set adequate budgets for the works. The £15 million we put there, as I said, includes electrification, the signalling of the loop, some relatively minor infrastructure as well as the trackwork and so on.

  10268. As does Daventry, of course. You mentioned the problem of stageworking. If these works did not get built as part of the main contracts that you have just described, how much more expensive would they be to put in later?
  (Mr Berryman) That is a very difficult question to answer off the top of the head. If you take the Chadwell Heath loop it would not really make any difference; you could do it later or at the same time with very little difference in cost. If you think about the Hanwell Bridge sidings, the stageworks there are incredibly complicated. You have to keep moving the tracks over one and putting some new points and crossings in and so on, and I think it would be sensible to do that at the same time as the rest of the Crossrail works are done simply because you could make use of the same possessions; you could make use of the same methods of doing the work. But to answer your point in general is very difficult because on a case-by-case basis it would be different.

  10269. Difficult to estimate, or difficult to build?
  (Mr Berryman) I have not had a chance to say this in this Chamber, my Lord, but in engineering everything is possible; it is just a question of how much it costs.

  10270. LORD SNAPE: Not just engineering, of course!
  (Mr Berryman) So it would be a question of the details of the alternative way of doing things, I think.

  10271. LORD BERKELEY: Perhaps I could rescue Mr Berryman before we go any deeper in this. You will recall that I and others from Rail Freight Group had a meeting with you and colleagues a month or two ago to discuss these works and there were some works where you put to us that there was still a lot of design work to be done on the passenger side and it would be unreasonable to ask for a recommendation from this Committee to ask the Promoters to commit to those works because the design was being completely altered, and one of those was Maidenhead, another was Slough and another one was Shenfield. Would you agree that you put that to us, and would you accept that is the reason why we did not make the list any longer at this stage?
  (Mr Berryman) Well, I am perfectly prepared to accept that, if you say so, yes, of course.

  10272. Thank you, Mr Berryman. That is all I have to do on the works themselves. Could I now briefly ask you to take us back to this rather vexed question we have spent a lot of time talking about in the last day or two which is the question of permissions for planning and access? I must say I think many of us still remain a little bit confused. In your original evidence last Tuesday, paragraph 8783, Mr Elvin suggested that the Rail Freight Group, my clients, was trying to seek to part from industry processes by asking the Committee to ask the Promoters to build specific works, and he did the same with several of my other witnesses as well. Would you not agree that there are two parallel processes here: one is obtaining planning permission to build something, and the other is getting access rights to run the trains, and they are completely separate—or they can be.
  (Mr Berryman) I take it from that that what you mean is that this Bill gives us the planning consent we need to build the elements of the works, and that is a separate process from the access rights which people can acquire to run over the works that are built. Just so I understand, is that the question?

  10273. Yes.
  (Mr Berryman) In that case I do agree with it, yes.

  10274. But you will also agree that when the Bill started off as a Hybrid Bill it sought both to give you planning permission and to give you access rights through what we call the railway clauses?
  (Mr Berryman) Yes, I guess you could say that, although there are others better qualified than me to answer that, which is more of a legal point really.

  10275. Just taking you through that, last year Government said, possibly as a result of industry pressure, that it would seek to operate through the industry processes and if it was satisfied it would withdraw the railway clauses.
  (Mr Berryman) Yes, that is correct.

  10276. And so at that stage Crossrail were seeking planning permission through the Hybrid Bill process, and access rights through the industry processes, assuming they came out right, as I think you put it?
  (Mr Berryman) Yes, that is right.

  10277. And you are still seeking planning permission through the Bill, and that is right.
  (Mr Berryman) That is correct.

  10278. The application for access rights to the ORR was based on the agreed timetable done on the basis of the works in the Bill, as you have confirmed and other people have?
  (Mr Berryman) Yes. In fact, not all of the works in the Bill but the majority.

  10279. Of course, not all but the relevant?
  (Mr Berryman) Yes.



 
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