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Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Crossrail is an underground rail project to link London on its east-west axis. Its current projected cost is £16 billion.

The principal works are:

1 -The central tunnels, with new subterranean stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel and the Isle of Dogs, each offering interchange opportunities with existing London Underground, National Rail and the Docklands Light Railway services.
2 - Another pair of tunnels, running under the Thames at North Woolwich and including a new station at Woolwich. This connects the reused former part of the North London Line with the North Kent Line.
3 - Most existing stations on the route will receive platform extensions, and a significant number will be completely rebuilt.
4 - Overhead electrification to be installed between Heathrow Airport junction and Maidenhead.

......The tunnelled section of the line will be about 22 km (13.75 miles) in length: a difficult and expensive piece of engineering, because of two factors: London’s geology, and the extensive tunnelling that already exists in central London. Its twin circular tunnels will have an internal diameter of 6 m (19.7 ft)[1], compared with the 3.8 m (12.5 ft) diameter of existing deep Tube lines.

I have previously written on the outrageous cost of public projects in Britain. The Dome costing £670 million to build but only £46 million for building & the new Forth Bridge being £4.2 bn when the last one cost, in today's money, £314 million.

I have also previously written about how the Norwegians have cut 750 km of tunnels over the last couple of decades at a cost of between £3.2 million & £10 million per km.

Taking this at the most expensive rate, because London is indeed built on clay & bearing in mind that it is a 2 direction tunnel the tunneling cost for 22 km should be £440 million.

Even if you say the same cost again for extending platforms & yet again for electrification & new rolling stock the total cost comes out at about £1.3 billion. 8% of the proposed cost. The Dome was 7% & the Forth Bridge is costed at 7.5%. I see a trend here. I have previously sent my articles to those in government & had letters published in newspapers but, strange as it may seem, nobody in government has been willing to explain exactly where our money is going.

The 2 best answers I have seen are this online response from Alex which largely blames it on the Health & Safety Executive & other regulators, our labyrinthine planning system, & lack of trained workers. & this rather amusing piece from Steve Sailer on how Obama will find it possible to create 2.5 million jobs improving America's infrastructure jobs:

At its peak, the Big Dig employed about 5,000 construction workers. That's a lot of construction workers relative to most big projects. But it's a tiny number compared to Obama's 2.5 million number. So, Obama is proposing, in effect, to have 500 Big Digs going full blast in 24 months.

Even assuming away the lead time issue, just notice from the Big Dig that infrastructure is a very, very expensive way to create jobs. This isn't 1935. Public works workers need more than just shovels. The capital requirements for infrastructure jobs are enormous.

The next thing the media are going to notice about infrastructure projects is that they and the rest of Obama's base don't actually want jobs operating, say, a jackhammer. If a journalist gets laid off by his newspaper, is he going to want Obama to give him a jackhammer job? Of course not. He's going to want Obama to get him a job where he sits at a desk with a computer and a phone in an air-conditioned office.

In fact, Obama's people don't want anybody operating a noisy, smelly jackhammer anywhere near them. It's not that they're against infrastructure per se. Indeed, they would like infrastructure to have been built, but Obama People are going to oppose via lawsuits the actual building of infrastructure anywhere close to them, with its attendant racket, odors, and traffic jams. Not in my back yard!

In contrast to infrastructure jobs, Obama will eventually realize, makework office jobs are relatively cheap (perhaps not so cheap ultimately) and easy to create. To employ people to administer programs aimed at, say, enhancing outcomes among our troubled youths, you don't need an environmental impact statement. You don't need to buy a bulldozer for a new worker, just a computer, a desk, and a chair. (Eventually, you'll need guys with jackhammers to come build another office building for all the new staffers, but you can squeeze them in for awhile.) And every bureaucracy already has lots of existing plans on file to hire more staffers to help them do whatever it is they do.

And Obama's kind of people like office jobs administering social work programs a lot more than they like jackhammer jobs. So, it's a win-win proposition!

Therefore, expect to hear the term "human infrastructure" a lot this winter as the Obama Administration starts to realize that actual infrastructure projects aren't going to make much of a dent in the unemployment rate before the 2010 elections, but hiring a ton of people to staff, say, innovative programs to foster excellence in public schools are an easy way to provide jobs for the boys (and girls).

It rather looks like in Britain we have years ago managed to create more jobs in infrastructure by creating lots & lots of jobs in offices with desks & phones to discuss with each other when the guy with the jackhammer or tunnel boring machine should be allowed to start.

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