When Union Railways North (URN), a subsidiary of London and Continental Railways (LCR), needed some experienced engineers on site to report on progress and advise on problems involved in building part of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL), also known as High Speed 1, it turned to Firstco, the technical consultancy, project management and systems integration specialists.

As a result, Firstco’s Pedro Osorio and John Myers have spent some months as URN’s representatives on-site, helping URN to fulfil its responsibilities for Section 2 of the CTRL project – building the railway from Ebbsfleet in Kent, under the Thames, overground to Dagenham and then in tunnel (some 30m below ground level) to the Kings Cross Rail Lands.

Pedro Osorio commented: “Naturally, offering this advice and guidance has needed to be done in an unbiased fashion. As the project is nearing completion and, for example, Eurostar is moving its operations to St Pancras International, my role is now evolving,” he added. “It is taking on elements of project management, which means that I can now use my experience to help support and motivate those constructing the railway and make their job simpler. I’m someone who can be contacted whenever there is a difficulty. I help to ensure that things run smoothly and efficiently – especially in these last few days before St Pancras International station opens officially on 14th November and the CTRL is complete.”

While there are still some challenges to be overcome before that date and there are bound to be some snags to be ironed out after that, Firstco has been delighted to play a key part in helping the CTRL project to progress as well as it has done.

Firstco’s involvement in the CTRL project also includes commissioning the managing process for the control and communications systems being used on the CTRL. Firstco, which opened subsidiary companies in Dubai and Mauritius earlier this year, has some ten years’ experience in this field, including:

  • Providing specialist input to the project leaders for controls and communication systems and systems engineering
  • Ensuring the systems requirements of the stakeholders (user, operator and maintainer) are fully understood
  • Helping to clarify the briefs to enable the sub-project teams to move forward with their definition and detailed designs
  • Assisting in interfaces with specialist client and supplier systems teams and the existing rail stakeholders (such as train operating companies and Network Rail)
  • Supporting and facilitating progress of the sub-project teams by aiding communication, identifying possible solutions providers and opportunities for rationalisation and challenging thinking
  • Designing, commissioning, testing and project managing the delivery and integration of station and tunnel control systems into a single control room graphical user interface (GUI)

Firstco’s chairman, Mark Calnan, added: “We strongly believe in being part of a team, including clients and contractors. This is the basis for our concept of Value Assured Engineering (VAE) which, we have demonstrated time and again, has brought success to projects in which we’ve been involved – both in engineering and budgetary terms – and it’s the philosophy that we have brought to our work with the CTRL.”