VolkerFitzpatrick has been notified by Crossrail of its intention to award them the US$9.6M contract to construct the project’s Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA). TUCA will start to offer training in spring 2011 with the building planned to be fully open by summer 2011.
Next month sees the start of the new Academy in east London, which will use Crossrail, Europe’s largest transport infrastructure project, to offer training to at least 3,500 people in underground construction alone over the lifetime of the project
Crossrail at its peak will employ some 14,000 people and will provide a crucial boost for London’s economy. The Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy aims to address the shortage of people with the necessary skills to work on Crossrail and other tunnelling projects across the UK.
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Following the completion of Crossrail the academy will remain providing a lasting legacy for London and the UK construction industry.
The Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy will be a purpose-built facility providing training on the key skills required to work in tunnel excavation and underground construction. Whist the UK has tunnelling expertise and knowledge there is not a purpose-built training facility in the UK to act as a focal point for the industry.
The Academy will be located at Aldersbrook Sidings on the border of Newham and Redbridge, close to Ilford town centre. Enabling works are currently taking place on site ahead of main construction starting.
Crossrail tunnelling activity will get underway in late 2011. In just over one year from now the first TBMs will start on their journey from Royal Oak towards Farringdon. This will be followed shortly by the launch of further TBMs in Docklands that will head towards Farringdon under central London. Teams of dedicated construction workers will be working 24 hours a day to complete the tunnels with thousands of others employed to upgrade the existing rail network and build major new stations along the central section of the route.
Terry Morgan, Crossrail Chairman, said: “As well as delivering much needed additional rail capacity, Crossrail has an important role to play in supporting regeneration and the economy. Ensuring that job opportunities are made available to Londoners – and that Londoners have the skills required – is a vital part of Crossrail’s approach to construction.
“Contractors winning work with Crossrail will recruit and employ local people along the construction route and it is likely many of these people will attend training at the Academy. This will ensure that we have people with the right skills in place to deliver Crossrail for London and many other vital infrastructure projects in the future.”
The volume of tunnelling and underground construction work taking place in the UK over the next decade is unprecedented. Aside from Crossrail, Thames Water will be constructing the Thames Tideway Tunnel sewerage scheme while National Grid will be constructing new electricity cable tunnels under London.
Crossrail needs the new Academy to address the shortage of people with the necessary skills to work on construction of the new railway. The Academy will ensure that all people working underground on Crossrail sites achieve the Underground Safety Passport. Crossrail anticipates that 3,500 underground workers will require training of some sort over the lifetime of the project.
To meet the needs of the Crossrail construction programme, training at the Academy will initially be provided to people working on Crossrail to meet the needs of the construction timetable. The training at the Academy will include National Vocational Qualifications such as NVQ Level 2 in Tunnelling Operations. The course content for this is currently being developed.
The Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy will provide training for contractors working on other major London tunnelling projects, as well as the potential to assist European projects including Dublin Metro. The new Academy will ensure that there are sufficient numbers of people with the skills to work safely in underground construction to satisfy industry demand.
Crossrail will also leave a skills legacy for London and the UK. It is planned that the Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy will be operated as an independent organisation once the Crossrail construction is complete and become a long-term provider of tunnelling skills to the construction industry.