In the three years during which he has had to endure wildcat strikes, questions in parliament and even a police raid, Jubilee Line Extension project director Chris Raven admits to having lost some sleep. “It’s true I’ve had one or two sleepless nights,” he says. “But like a lot of people in our industry, I tend to enjoy the stress. You couldn’t survive in construction if you didn’t.”

Raven, project director for M&E contractor Drake & Scull, is in charge of the complex M&E contract for the JLE, which includes dealing with construction’s most volatile workforce. The programme is tantalisingly close to completion, but one station, Westminster, is still under construction and Raven is anxious to complete it by new year’s eve.

He finds relief from the stress of presiding over more than 1000 M&E workers by pumping iron before work. A veteran of the Channel Tunnel project, Raven says regular workouts are crucial to help him cope with the pressure of delivering the £3.8bn JLE on time. “Having a good general fitness level enables me to deal with stress better.”

Raven says the immovable deadline has been the cause of the odd sleepless night. “Everything that happens has to be got around – illness, access problems, whatever. On most projects you can agree with a client to move a deadline in exceptional circumstances, but the millennium can’t be turned back.”

He is clearly one of life’s optimists, however, and his positive attitude has even helped him put the sleepless nights to good use. “I’ve taken to having a notebook by the bed so I can jot down ideas and implement them the next day,” he says.

Raven agrees that an understanding and supportive partner is a big help when working on all-consuming projects like the JLE. The Raven family is based in Folkestone and he commutes home at weekends to spend time with his wife and four children. “I miss not seeing my kids during the week,” he says. “On Sundays, I do half a day’s work at home,” he adds, “and, of course, the mobile is on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Like everyone from the industry involved in millennium schemes, Raven has been taken aback by the amount of media attention his project has achieved. “It’s strange seeing your name in print, and some of the things attributed to me have made me question whether I should speak to the press at all. But what saddens me is what the press has ignored. On the Channel Tunnel project, several people were killed; that hasn’t happened here. A lot of effort has gone into that and it’s sad no one has seen fit to write about it.”

Chris Raven

How much weight have you lost during the project? I’ve lost about half a stone, but that’s been down to working out at the gym. Low point? The strike in October 1998. Before that, my father-in-law died; that was a real low point. High point? Opening of phase one of the line in May. In fact, the opening of all the stations has given me a buzz. Where will you spend the millennium? At home in Folkestone with family and friends.