Home: February / March 2012 › Taking pride
28/02/2012 | Channel:
Infrastructure, Business Improvement
With a hand in many of the UK's current landmark rail projects, Taylor Woodrow is helping to make the most of today's network for tomorrow
Ninety years after its foundation it is likely that Taylor Woodrow has exceeded all of its early aspirations in becoming an undeniable success in the UK construction industry with a track record that covers all major civil engineering sectors, and disciplines such as road, rail, air transport, nuclear, and water. Yet having achieved this status in its own right, Taylor Woodrow has become a formidable part ofan even wider international entity – the VINCI group. Positioned as the civil engineering division of VINCI Construction UK, the business is able to draw upon a wide range of expertise and skills, as well as centres of excellence such as VINCI Construction Grands Projets, and Bachy Soletanche.
“As a civil engineering organisation our key strengths are undoubtedly our people and their approach – a trait we share with the whole VINCI family,” reveals Fred Garner, sector director for transportation projects at Taylor Woodrow. “We operate in a way that is collaborative, responsive, thoughtful and planned. We aim to thoroughly understand a client’s technical and business objectives, and build these into our project plan from the outset, working closely with the client team to deliver an excellent product and service.”
This approach to business has seen Taylor Woodrow achieve a position on many of the UK’s most iconic rail projects including Paddington mainline concourse, King’s Cross Underground and mainline station, and the Tottenham Court Road and Victoria Underground stations. The complexity of these projects demands the greatest skill in planning and delivering the work in a way that does not affect the primary function of the station at hand, which is to safely accommodate thousands of passengers each day.
Elaborating on the market trends and conditions that drive much of the company’s work, Fred says: “In the UK our transport infrastructure is well developed, but to maintain the UK’s competiveness in the global economy it is essential that we continue to maintain capacity on our increasingly congested network. Constructing brand-new infrastructure in this country is clearly difficult owing to sensitive environmental, planning and cost constraints, therefore we have to think smarter to innovate and improve the infrastructure we have.
“This is where we come in – we have the expertise to deliver multi-disciplinary capacity enhancement in live rail environments as a core offering. Many, if not all, of our projects feature this as a key driver, either for improved passenger capacity or interchange, or new rolling stock. As an example of ongoing improvements to passenger capacity, we are currently redeveloping King’s Cross station, Tottenham Court Road Underground, and Victoria Underground station. All three projects are major landmark schemes in their own right and involve upgrading listed buildings and live legacy systems, and cutting-edge tunnelling techniques, all in a live operational and passenger environment in a highly congested central London location,” he adds.
Although perhaps not as iconic as these station works, Taylor Woodrow also takes great pride in its work on the Connaught Tunnel project in accordance with Crossrail. Described as the refurbishment of the existing Victorian twin arch tunnel that runs beneath the Royal Albert and Victoria Docks, this is actually an incredibly technical challenge as the tunnel needs to be re-profiled into one tunnel bore to accommodate the Crossrail trains. In doing so, though, the invert of the tunnel has to be lowered, along with the removal of the longitudinal wall separating the two tunnels.
“A key advantage of being part of VINCI’s huge global organisation is that we have been able to benchmark our operations against those of our colleagues in Europe and around the world. By drilling into these details and tapping into the shared knowledge and innovation that is captured across VINCI we are developing new approaches to the way we deliver projects in the UK, and we believe will help address the challenges laid down by the McNulty report in delivering more for less. As an example, VINCI is delivering the largest rail concession in Europe, in France, with the construction of the 340 kilometre Tours-Bordeaux high speed line. Although this contract was only signed in June 2011, in just five-and-a-half years planning, detailed design and construction will have been completed, with the line in commercial operation by 2017. In comparison, the UK HS2 line between London and Birmingham, at half this length, will take at least 12 years to reach completion,” enthuses Fred.
Whilst Taylor Woodrow’s experience of market conditions to date demonstrates a strong supply of opportunities, the business is conscious of a potential change in this situation as the year progresses. This will be a result of Crossrail completing its procurement process, and a hiatus caused by the Olympics and the reorganisation of Network Rail. With this though may come a new spread of opportunities, which the market will be keen to take advantage of. Although keeping an eye on the outcome of this, Fred concludes with how Taylor Woodrow is forging ahead with its own future plans: “We would like to maintain our current portfolio of projects and clients, offering us an interesting and varied workload for the team, and perhaps secure one or two major jobs to take us through to 2015, by which point we will be seeing the first of the HS2 contracts – with Taylor Woodrow and VINCI positioned as the prime contenders.”