Northern Ireland business wins £46m contract for work on London Crossrail stations
Co Down construction firm Graham has won a £46m contract to build two new train stations and upgrade a third as part of the delay-hit London Crossrail scheme.
Europe's biggest infrastructure project was due to open in December 2018 but has been hit by setbacks and spiralling costs, pushing the date back to 2020 or even 2021.
Originally expected to cost £14.8bn, Crossrail has cost £17.6bn to date.
The completed project, known as the Elizabeth Line, will eventually span a 60-mile distance - much of it underground - connecting Reading in the west with Shenfield in Essex via the centre of London.
Hillsborough-based Graham will build two of the 41 stations that the line will eventually service. The projects are in West Ealing and at the Acton Main Line station.
The Northern Ireland firm has also signed a contract to significantly remodel Ealing Broadway station.
All three schemes are located on the Great Western Main Line section of the project, falling under the Crossrail West Enhanced Stations Phase 2 programme.
Graham has been tasked with maintaining full service during the 18-month programme.
The Co Down company said the work for Network Rail would start immediately, with completion scheduled for late 2020.
Transport for London will run the new line.
Graham's rail director Jonny Kerr said: "We are delighted to have been appointed to this nationally important infrastructure project, which will help transform rail transport in London and the south-east.
"Our selection is recognition of the collaborative relationship which we have developed with Network Rail.
"It also demonstrates our reputation for delivering excellence in the rail sector, having recently completed a number of schemes, including Bellenden and Westdown Bridges.
"Currently, we are completing transformative projects, such as the Scarborough Train Care Facility and Portrush Train.
"We are proud that our work on the Great Western Main Line will help to provide a step-change in public transport for the people of Ealing."
Graham will be building new stations at West Ealing and at the Acton Main Line hub.
The work includes interior fit-out, telecommunications, step-free access between platforms and street level and the provision of windows within the ticket office.
The Ealing Broadway scheme involves the construction of a new curved canopy, new glass structures, a new entrance and a ticket hall with capacity for 17 standard ticket gates and one wide gate.
It will also feature platform extensions to accommodate the new Elizabeth Line trains, four new lifts, improved staircases and new toilet facilities.
Network Rail project director Dave Crockett said: "With the enabling works already complete, the award of contracts for Ealing Broadway, West Ealing and the Acton Main Line stations will allow Network Rail and its new contractors to deliver these important station upgrades that are so eagerly awaited by local communities in west London."
Graham is the latest Co Down firm to be recruited into the Crossrail fold.
Dromore-based Environmental Fabrications has won a series of contracts linked to the major infrastructure scheme.
The firm, which employs around 50 people, has provided 300 tonnes of steel to Crossrail.
The company has also fitted gantry cranes, along with the additional structural support steel, jetties, access platforms and handrails to sites in east London and Kent to help transport concrete segments that will be used to line the new rail tunnels underneath London.
Environmental Fabrications set up a new workshop factory in Haverill, Suffolk, on the back of the work.
Meanwhile the knock-on impact of the Crossrail delays were highlighted this week when it emerged that 479 train drivers had been on the payroll for two years at a cost of £25m a year, despite most services not yet being open.