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Newry firm's Tube deal 'most important in its history'

By John Mulgrew

A Newry firm has called a £1.4m contract to build two passenger tunnels for the London Underground the "most important" deal in the company's history.

Barry McAllister, managing director of Terra Solutions, said the tunnels would link the planned new European headquarters of the financial news giant Bloomberg with Bank Tube Station.

He is also hoping the new deal will help the company break through and secure further work with London Underground.

"It's for two 5.5m diameter tunnels to connect the London Underground to the new Bloomberg building," Mr McAllister said.

"It will mean people can go into their basement and get access to the Waterloo and City lines."

Work is due to start in November, when a team of around 20 people will begin the tunnelling work.

It will take around three-and-a-half months to complete.

The company has between 20 and 30 staff, and has operated under its current name since 2008.

In the last few years, it has completed a number of big contracts, including a major tunnel project in Dublin Bay, as well as creating a terminal bringing in North Sea gas.

Around 60% of the firm's business is in Great Britain, with a further third in the Republic.

"We do all types of tunnels, as well as micro and pipe-checking," Mr McAllister said.

"This is our first London Underground 'adit' tunnel. I think that this is the most important job that we will do.

"We have done bigger, with some worth £4m, but this is prestigious and there is the potential for more work on the Underground."

Mr McAllister also told how his firm was the first new company to do tunnelling work for the underground in several decades.

"Just two companies have been doing this work for 40 years," he added.

"We've now broken in and are approved with the London Underground.

"There are hundreds of these things to be done here."

Terra Solutions has had financial support from Ulster Bank towards its ongoing expansion.

Girvan Gault, head of Lisburn Business Centre, said the company had "secured this very prestigious contract to deliver a world-class infrastructure project against stiff competition from international businesses". "We are pleased to support them to deliver the project," he added.

Terra Solutions has been subcontracted by Hochtief UK Ltd to create the new tunnels.

The £57m Bloomberg Place development, which will be the financial information provider's new European headquarters, will comprise two nine-floor office buildings, providing more than 110,000 sq m of high-specification office space.

The tunnels will be constructed by Terra Solutions using sprayed concrete lining tunnelling, a method for large-diameter tunnel construction in the UK.

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