Businesses in the North West are being urged to seize the opportunities that Crossrail – Europe’s biggest construction project – has to offer.

Crossrail, the new rail line that will link Berkshire with Essex via 21km of twin tunnels under London, has awarded direct, tier 1 contracts with a value of over £5.5bn. Throughout the project and its supply chain it is estimated that enough work will be generated to support the equivalent of 55,000 full time jobs.

The project has already supported employment and businesses in the North West as firms have picked up contracts connected to the project. However, the majority of contracts throughout the supply chain are yet to be awarded.

Tens of thousands of business opportunities will arise over the years ahead as the project’s main contractors still need to buy a wide range of goods, works and services from companies of all sizes.

Figures published today by Crossrail show that 43 per cent of businesses winning work connected to Crossrail are based outside of London and the southeast and 58 per cent are small and medium sized businesses.

North West businesses that have already benefitted include:

·         Watson Steel has supplied around 2,500 tonnes of steel to the Crossrail project at Farringdon. The Watson factory in Bolton employs approximately 280 people of which around 40 have been working on the Crossrail contract. In addition Watson has also supplied elements of steelwork to another Crossrail project at Canary Wharf.

·         Dew Piling, based in Oldham, has provided more than 1,000 tonnes of steel to construct shafts and other structures at a number of Crossrail sites, including Limmo Peninsula and Pudding Mill Lane in east London. The company employs 24 people and has recently taken on two junior engineers, partly on the back of Crossrail contracts which last year accounted for approximately a quarter of its workload.

·         Lifting Gear UK, which has its head office in Preston, supplied a contract lifting service to the Plumstead site in southeast London to manage the lowering of Crossrail’s thousand tonne tunnelling machine, Sophia, into the ground at the end of last year. The company will also manage the lowering of the site’s second machine, Mary, later in the month. The company has a number of branches in the North West of England as well as two in London. It currently employs 46 people in total with expansion planned in the Midlands and Scotland during 2013.

·         Street Crane Co Ltd, based in High Peak, has manufactured and installed ten cranes on the Crossrail project, including one in Oxford Street during the construction of the new Tottenham Court Road Crossrail station. In total the cranes weigh 180 tonnes with an equivalent overall length of 19 double decker buses end-to-end. Up to 60 employees have been involved in the Crossrail contracts.

Andrew Wolstenholme, Crossrail Chief Executive, said: “Crossrail is already helping to support employment in the North West as businesses have benefitted from work connected to the project.

“Work on Crossrail is set to peak over the next two years, so it’s vital that businesses in the region seize the opportunities that Europe’s largest construction project has to offer. We want to make sure that firms of all sizes from right across the UK know about the business openings that will arise.”

Emma Antrobus, Transport Policy Manager, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are pleased that companies in the North West are benefitting from the Crossrail project and hope that many more will be successful in bidding for contracts in the future. As a Chamber we continue to lobby for investment into transport infrastructure to improve connectivity between major centres of employment, and to support the revival of the construction sector. We hope that the skills and jobs created on Crossrail will be sustained with investment into the Northern Hub rail project and, of course, HS2.”

Crossrail has today issued a three point plan for businesses looking for Crossrail work:

·   Sign up to the CompeteFor website. A bit like an online dating service for businesses, the website automatically matches suppliers to opportunities that suit them and allows them to apply for contracts quickly and easily.

·   Go to the suppliers section of the Crossrail website where they can see the latest summary of all the direct contracts awarded and download a supplier guide, which is designed to help businesses find out more about Crossrail and how to become a Crossrail supplier.

·   Get in touch with their recognised trade association, many of which are in contact with Crossrail about the opportunities available for the sectors that they represent.

Crossrail is a DfT supported project.

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