We are delighted that the brand new Elizabeth line has now arrived. This exciting new railway offers a fully connected service with trains from Reading and Heathrow in the west through central tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. The Elizabeth line serves 41 accessible stations – 10 of them new – and is expected to serve around 200 million people each year.

Nichols worked with Crossrail for 34 years. It has been our privilege to have worked as strategic advisors to Crossrail throughout the lifecycle of this hugely important project, providing all aspects of strategy and programme management. It is so exciting to see Londoners using this fantastic new service which is transforming the lives of millions.

Crossrail is one of the most complex infrastructure programmes in the world, connecting contemporary and historic transport systems to deliver a railway that meets the needs of London today and for the future.  This £15bn railway construction programme will provide a high-frequency passenger service linking Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east via central London.

In 2009, following Royal Assent, Crossrail appointed Transcend, a joint venture between Nichols, AECOM and CH2M Hill, as their Programme Partner.  In this role we act as strategic advisor and an extension of the client’s team.  We bring world class professionals with expertise in all aspects of programme management, working collaboratively with Crossrail providing leadership, strategic insight and delivery support across several workstreams including programme assurance, technical assurance, systems integration and addressing commissioning issues that were required to open the new railway.

Nichols’ experience on Crossrail is unique, having being involved throughout the development and delivery lifecycle of this iconic programme.  Our role within the Programme Partner has helped Crossrail create a strong Integrated Programme Team.

Nichols developed a framework for managing compliance with parliamentary commitments and establishing processes for stakeholder engagement.  We contributed to design of programme controls, including schedule integration, risk and change management, assurance, and reporting.  We led the creation of an integrated risk model aligned with key programme milestones, covering all strategic and programme risks necessary to deliver a safe railway.

We established the initial control baseline and successfully steered the programme through the Sponsor Review Points.

We brought our insight and collaborative approach to managing design and engineering contracts on tunnelling and depot contracts, gaining the agreement of affected stakeholders.  We were responsible for the award winning Rolling Stock and Depot procurement activities including development of tender documentation and bid evaluation.

Leading up to the completion of tunnelling in 2015, Nichols designed and led a comprehensive review of the schedule baseline to provide assurance that Crossrail would be delivered successfully.  The resulting Master Operational Handover Schedule became a tool for integration with input from all delivery partners and executive approval.

Nichols led the design, implementation and delivery of Crossrail’s exciting, cutting edge innovation programme.  The Innovation platform provided a safe environment for Crossrail and its supply chain to collaborate and to develop and share fresh ideas and solutions, improving the way Crossrail’s ambitions are achieved while mitigating risk and maximising opportunity.

Nichols holds key roles managing transition from delivery to operations, including systems integration; development of staged testing and commissioning; and revising programme governance to address commissioning and handover challenges.

Creating a world class railway

Nichols developed and deployed an integrated IT system for managing test performance.  The system was critical to managing overall performance of trains and signalling system testing.

Nichols led strategic reviews and made recommendations in support of Crossrail’s Earliest Opening Programme which aided strategic focus on staged approach to opening the railway.  In addition, we led the strategic development of the Crossrail Engineering Safety and Assurance Case (CESAC) – the assurance argument that demonstrates Crossrail’s technical obligations have been achieved.

Crossrail successfully passed all review points and its budget was confirmed as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, allowing it to begin full-scale implementation.

We have made a significant contribution in establishing a culture of constant self-challenge at Crossrail, conducting capability reviews and applying improvement plans. Through designing and implementing collaborative processes such as the Master Operational Handover Schedule, we ensured that shared responsibility and accountability exists for Crossrail and its supply chain.

The culture of collaboration at the heart of the Innovation programme has been shown to deliver cost benefits and improved performance. The programme leaves a true legacy for future infrastructure projects.

Nichols involvement across the programme has enabled focus on three key outcomes: direction, alignment and commitment.  Our collective and individual roles across functions have enabled teams to identify and implement strategic change required to improve performance.

To read more about our involvement in making the Elizabeth line a reality, please see our Crossrail Early Years story.


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