JV was hotly tipped to win the London Bridge contract

A hotly tipped joint venture between Laing O’Rourke and Mace has lost out on the chance to build the £800m improvements to London Bridge Station under the next phase of the multibillion-pound Thameslink programme.

Building understands that client Network Rail has cut the original shortlist of five bidders to just two, Costain and Skanska. Other contractors to miss out include Balfour Beatty and Carillion.

The move is likely to surprise many, as the Mace and Laing O’Rourke JV had been seen as the bidder to beat for the programme manager job. Mace worked with Laing O’Rourke as programme manager as part of the CLM consortium at the Olympics, where they were signed up by current Network Rail boss David Higgins.

Mace’s knowledge of the London Bridge site due to its work on the Shard tower, and its role building the £500m Birmingham New Street station were also thought likely to count in its favour.

Several separate sources confirmed Mace and Laing O’Rourke had failed to make the latest shortlisting round, with Mace’s role at Birmingham New Street actually thought to have
counted against it.

One source close to the situation said: “There was a feeling at Network Rail that it was unsure of Mace’s total capacity for this kind of work, and wanted the firm to ensure it was concentrating on the Birmingham Gateway.”

The project is the largest of the £6bn of key projects being run by Network Rail’s major projects division. This division is to be run as an increasingly separate business within Network Rail, and will be asked to compete to run projects in the future.

The London Bridge scheme will expand the station to allow two thirds more passengers than current capacity.