Cliff Mumm is now in charge of the Crossrail construction programme, let's hope he can repeat his success on the Jubilee Line

Big news for Crossrail, the £16bn west-to-east London rail link, this past weekend. One Cliff Mumm has been drafted in to help prepare Crossrail’s construction programme, which should start soon after the mega-project gets royal assent later this year.

If you haven’t heard of Mumm, just Google his name and “Bechtel”. Or “Iraq”. Or “Jubilee Line”. Mumm is one of the few truly big beasts in global construction – and his secondment to Crossrail, where it turns out he has been working since November, is the surest signal yet that the thing might actually be more than just a pipe dream; that it will actually get built.

Mumm has already snaffled a CBE for his incredible work on the Jubilee Line extension in the late 90s. Overbudget and well behind schedule, Mumm and his team at Bechtel were brought in to complete the damn thing in time for the UK’s millennium celebrations. And they succeeded.

Next up was Iraq. Some argue that Bechtel was not successful there, pointing to evidence of more than 100 employees killed or injured and that the company pulled out in 2006 after just three years.

This view fails to grasp the hugeness of what Bechtel was trying to achieve in some of the most shocking conditions one can imagine. I know, because I have seen contractors and project managers try to design a whole new water system for Basra in the space of a week, holed up in a tiny, heavily protected compound. Pro- or anti-war, these guys deserve medals.

Bechtel completed 97 out of 99 projects, sorting out everything from sewage systems to airports. That was another incredible achievement for Mumm, who was Bechtel’s programme manager and boss in Iraq.

And now the American is back in Blighty, where he is also working on Bechtel’s bid for the Sellafield clean-up contract.

I have spoken to Mumm briefly, and from that conversation I realise that this kind of praise bemuses and embarrasses him. But we Brits really should be grateful that the Yank is back in town.