Crossrail bosses identify the 140 staff ‘critical’ to completing the project - International Burch University
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Crossrail bosses identify the 140 staff ‘critical’ to completing the project

Crossrail bosses have pinpointed 140 “critical” workers needed to get the mega project across the line.

Chief executive Mark Wild told an Elizabeth line committee meeting last week that retention plans will be drawn up for these key members of the workforce.

“We’ve identified 140 critical Crossrail and Rail for London (RFL) people and we will make sure they have dedicated retention plans – either individually or with their host organisations,” he said.

“But I am very confident that we will keep a grip on the people to get to the end of the job.”

Wild emphasised that Crossrail has a “very, very low rate of losing staff and a very, very low vacancy rate”.

He added: “Despite the fact that there are other major projects starting up around us, they’re not really at our stage of the project. We are the only people in a mega programme sense doing this final testing and commissioning. So I’m confident we will keep our critical resources as we get through this last lap.”

The staff members are within the delivery, operations and engineering teams, along with the project’s programme and support functions.

A Crossrail spokesperson said these workers “continue to play a key role in supporting the continued progression of the railway’s commissioning process and the remaining activities to complete the Elizabeth line”.

The spokesperson added: “Delivery of the Elizabeth line is in now its complex final stages. Crossrail recently reached a significant milestone with the commencement of the trial running phase and the start of four trains per hour operating through the central tunnels. This is part of a number of major railway trials taking place on the system throughout this year.”

Concerns that Crossrail’s workforce is over-stretched and under-resourced were first raised by the project’s representative Jacobs in January and by the London Assembly.

In February, Wild admitted that there was a risk that engineers working on Crossrail could leave to work on HS2 and emphasised the importance of securing resources.

Concerns were also raised that changes to tax regulation could lead to a lack of assurance workers to complete outstanding work, with Jacobs urging Crossrail bosses to push back its schedule to ease the “intense pressure” on those assurance workers. 

There has been much recent discussion about the potential future challenges for the skilled workforce more generally.

In April, a survey by recruitment specialist Search Consultancy found that the large majority of construction and engineering firms have reported serious concerns about a lack of skilled workers.

Meanwhile, to tackle the UK’s skills shortage chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a series of schemes in the spring Budget, including increasing incentives to encourage firms to take on apprentices.

The Department for Transport (DfT) also commissioned the National Skills Academy for Rail in January 2021 to provide data on skills shortages across transport modes.

Skills shortages were identified in infrastructure construction, rail, freight and logistics, and the DfT is now working, in collaboration with industry partners, stakeholders, other government departments and public bodies (including HS2 Ltd), to identify mitigations and ensure it addresses the challenges facing both the transport industry and the wider economy.


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