A joint venture between three leading industry organisations is celebrating the value of collaboration in helping to deliver major infrastructure programmes.
Transcend, a joint venture between AECOM, Jacobs and The Nichols Group, collaborated as one team embedded into the client throughout the delivery of the hugely popular Elizabeth line, which saw more than one million passenger journeys within its first five days after opening last month.
Working as an integrated team with Crossrail Ltd, the three industry leaders provided specialist programme management capability on all stages of the programme including the main construction phase, integrating systems and handover. Transcend also engaged specialist subcontractors Turner and Townsend for commercial, controls, cost and risk management support and Unipart for logistics management support.
Utilising Transcend, Crossrail Ltd was able to benefit from different expertise at each stage from one source rather than having to resource all phases separately. The agile team connected around common goals, social value and community legacy, bringing in the right skillsets to support the wider benefits of the programme at the right time.
The Elizabeth line stretches 118km, connecting London from east to west and integrating with Heathrow airport, the Great Western and Great Eastern national railways. It will deliver significant economic, environmental and social sustainability improvements in the UK for decades to come.
“The Crossrail programme is such an inspiring project, and one where collaboration has been critical to success,” said Transcend’s longest serving board member Kathryn Nichols. “To bring three partners together with different cultures and skills and drive a powerful set of shared values for the last 15 years, has been a fantastic achievement and everyone on the journey has learned a huge amount.
“Transcend partners had a vision to go above and beyond, working well, not just with each other, but with the entire integrated Crossrail project team, challenging and respecting one another in pursuit of common goals. Many years later, it is wonderful to see this vision come to life, with the Elizabeth line now open.”
Most recently, the team supported the development of the programme requirements which has successfully seen the handover and assurance, trial running and trial operation phases being achieved leading to the opening of the railway.
A number of individuals on the Crossrail programme have significantly developed their knowledge and careers as a result of working on the programme. Many have gone on to use these skills on other major UK programmes.
These include Jacobs programme director Andy Alder, who moved on to the Thames Tideway Tunnel, as programme director.
“The experience gained working on the Crossrail project has been hugely beneficial to my career,” said Alder. “Crossrail Ltd demanded the highest technical standards on major tunnelling in urban areas and excellence when protecting the assets that we worked under and near. The scale and challenges on the Crossrail project were a level above what most of the industry had previously delivered. Since working on the programme I have spent a number of years on Tideway, using learnings to inform how to implement a different project.”
Jacobs programme manager Dr Syinyi Phoon added: “Working on the Crossrail project was my career pivot from a water technical specialist into the arena of complex major infrastructure programmes. Following working on the programme, it opened up more opportunities for me to leverage my skills working on Thames Tideway Tunnel and Sizewell C.”
AECOM director John Barker said: “The Transcend joint venture offered our teams the opportunity to work on a truly inspirational project and many of our people have developed their careers working on the Crossrail project and are now taking those skills to other major infrastructure programmes. For me, the biggest insight from my time on the scheme is how critical collaboration is to success. With infrastructure programmes in the UK growing in scale, building integrated teams that challenge and respect each other are vital for effective delivery and I have taken this approach to my current role on HS2 Phase 2B.”
AECOM project commercial manager Andrea Halliwell added: “I initially joined the Transcend team for a six-week period more than ten years ago, but the project offered incredible career opportunities that I stayed, and I am still working with Crossrail Ltd today. As a quantity surveyor I have developed my skills as part of the team overseeing contract administration. The scale of the Crossrail programme has provided invaluable experience in managing complex commercial processes, which are such a vital component of successful infrastructure delivery.”
Nichols strategy and operations director Temi Afolabi commented: “The importance and complexity of the Crossrail programme has driven the growth of my professional skills and expertise at a rapid pace. From providing technical oversight during the testing and commissioning phases, to becoming a leader in integration, supporting the business in defining strategy - working on the programme has shown me that complex infrastructure projects require transformational leadership, whole systems thinking and effective decision making.”
Bernard Fanning, Nichols Creative head of digital strategy and innovation, said: “My time supporting Crossrail Ltd on the final phases was a fantastic and varied experience that enhanced my capabilities enormously. My role included enhancing the train testing process, coordinating the assurance effort for the first multi-train test run, and ultimately driving programme integration and leading a readiness campaign to ensure the handover to the operators was done safely. Since leaving the project I have taken on the role of head of digital strategy and innovation at Nichols Creative, who offer technology, design, events, coaching and future ideas labs to raise creative consciousness and bring transformational change.”