Spanish construction firm brings in tunnelling specialists on £500m JV with Sisk

Spanish construction firm Dragados plans to draft in specialist workers from the continent to work on its Crossrail project.

Earlier this year the firm secured a £500m tunnelling works contract from Crossrail as part of a joint venture with Sisk. Known as “C305” the project will comprise about 11.9km of twin bore tunnels and will run from Limmo Peninsula in Newham, east London, to Farringdon in the City.

Dragados confirmed its intention to draft in specialist workers for the project but denied claims from an industry source that it would also draft in site labour. In a statement the firm said:

“Dragados Sisk Joint Venture, who are the contractors for the eastern tunnelling from Limmo to Farringdon, will be employing all site labour from within the UK with some specialist high-level tunnelling expertise brought in from our European offices.”

Neither Dragados nor Crossrail specified the number of staff that will be brought in from abroad nor what positions or levels of expertise they would occupy. A spokesperson for Crossrail said that the project was at too early a stage to determine this.

Alasdair Reisner, external affairs director at CECA, questioned the need to bring in experts from abroad: “There is a strong base of tunnelling expertise in this country. In recent years we’ve seen successful tunnelling works on the Jubilee line extensions and Channel and Tyne tunnels.”

But a Crossrail spokesperson argued there was a need to hire from abroad. “The UK has limited in-country high-level tunnelling expertise as it is a skills base that exists at a global level with skilled tunnel engineers moving from one international project to another.”

Although the Madrid-based firm has no office in the UK, it is keen to expand its operations in the country. Recently it landed a £790m contract to build the Scottish Forth bridge as part of a multinational consortium. Dragados is also on the bidders shortlist for the construction of three Crossrail stations.