Productivity at Crossrail’s Bond Street station is expected to be affected by a spell of COVID-19 outbreaks last year, according to a progress report from consultant Jacobs.
The station has consistently lagged behind other stations on the project and, in June last year, the Costain/Skanska joint venture working on it agreed to leave the contract early due to disruption caused by coronavirus. At the time, a spokesman for the JV said the station was “uniquely affected by the COVID-19 crisis, due to the number of operatives required on site to complete the station”.
The progress report for mid-October to mid-November and released late last week, noted: “A recent spell of COVID-19 outbreaks is expected to affect productivity at Bond Street Station.”
It added that, at the time, workers across the wider project had been affected by coronavirus. It said: “The COVID-19 second wave is resulting in positive cases and self-isolation of resources across the programme, causing Crossrail to maintain a heightened state of awareness. Crossrail’s focus has been on ensuring the safety and resilience of nearly 400 key people and protecting crucial physical assets for continuing operations.”
In response, Crossrail said that the project is still expected to meet its expected timeline, which will see passenger services up and running in the first half of 2022.
The impact of workers contracting COVID-19 added to the pressure of an “under-resourced” and “over-stretched” workforce, according to Jacobs. It said there are still 133 job vacancies that had not been filled, although this was an “improved position” from the 150 vacancies it found a month earlier. Crossrail has paused the recruitment process through Transport for London (TfL) and has turned to its supply chain to try and fill the gap in technical and assurance roles.
As a result, Jacobs said there is now significant pressure to move onto trial running, and warned over the timescale of the next stage of testing on the project.
In response, Crossrail said its funding problems had contributed to the issues around its recruitment. It said: “Recruitment is working effectively […] however, it is important that funding for the remainder of the programme is available to provide clarity and certainty to individuals that the phase of the programme […] to which they are allocated, is funded. This needs to be approved and communicated as soon as possible in 2021 to ensure the correct resources are available and retained.”
Last week, the London Assembly’s budget and performance committee highlighted a £275m shortfall in the funding required to complete Crossrail. In its report, the committee pointed out that London’s transport commissioner Andy Byford promised in December there would be “no further delays or further call on public funds” on the basis it was granted £1.1bn. So far, £845m has been secured, but the mayor himself has acknowledged that after this sum there is “nowhere else to go” and that “the government would need to step in”.

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Crossrail productivity ‘slowed’ by COVID-19 outbreaks – Megan Kelly – 2021-01-25 14:57:24

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