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Crossrail workers meet Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at new Farringdon Crossrail station

By Stuart Buss

Crossrail workers meet Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at new Farringdon Crossrail station

Two apprentices and a graduate engineer working on the Crossrail project met the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to the new Crossrail station under construction at Farringdon.

Apprentices Jack Burke, 20, from Bermondsey and Bob Gridley, 34, from Walthamstow, together with graduate engineer Akif Mahboob, 23, from Gants Hill in Ilford were part of a select group of workers at the station chosen to meet their Royal Highnesses on a special tour to mark the 150th anniversary of London Underground.

While marking the anniversary, their Royal Highnesses gained an insight into the future of London’s transport via the Crossrail project which is delivering the biggest transformation to London’s transport in more than 50 years.

Jack Burke and Bob Gridley are among 130 apprentices working across 40 construction sites to build the Crossrail route. More than 400 apprenticeships will be offered during the construction of Europe’s largest infrastructure project.

Jack and Bob are both undertaking an 18 month Spray Concrete Lining apprenticeship with Crossrail contractor BAM Nuttall and are among the first apprentices to train at the Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA) set up by Crossrail in east London to help address a skills shortage in the construction industry.  Bob secured his apprenticeship after Jobcentre referred him to pre-employment training at the Tunnelling Academy. Jack and Bob are now part of the team working 25 metres underground to construct the platform tunnels, each the length of two football pitches, that will be at the heart of the new Crossrail station at Farringdon.

Akif Mahboob joined the Crossrail project in October 2012 having completed a Masters in Civil Engineering at University College London. Akif’s talents were spotted by contractor Laing O’Rourke who signed him up as a Graduate Engineer where he is currently working on the construction of the new Crossrail station at Farringdon. He is part of the engineering team managing the excavation and foundation works to create a 25 metre deep shaft that will house the western ticket hall for the new station at Farringdon. Akif grew up close to Tube stations and as a child he often considered how his local station and the Underground had been engineered. His curiosity spurred a passion that eventually turned into a career.

Apprentice Jack Burke said: “I’d been out of employment for a couple of months when I was invited to an Open Day at the Tunnelling Academy and I secured an interview for a Crossrail apprenticeship from there. In a couple of decades’ time it will be great to be able to look back on being part of one of the biggest things to happen in the capital. We’re learning something new on Crossrail every day and I’m looking forward to getting more and more qualified - I can only go upwards from here.”

Apprentice Bob Gridley said: “To find out about the apprenticeship training on Crossrail and then apply and get the job was really pleasing. It’s great to be working on something I can feel passionate about and that actually means something. The Tube is 150 years old so the idea that I’m now building something like Crossrail that’s still going to be around and in use in another 150 years is quite incredible.”

Graduate Akif Mahboob said: “I grew up near Gants Hill station where the Tube passes beneath my home so I always had an interest in trains and stations when I was younger. I was lucky enough to get onto a Graduate scheme where my first job was on the Crossrail project, naturally sparking my interest. It was amazing to meet the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall today and tell them more about what I’m doing on the Crossrail project. It gives me great satisfaction to know that what is being delivered now will still be here in a hundred years time. Crossrail will pass through my hometown so perhaps in a few years I’ll be able to use the new route myself and appreciate my contribution toward its success.”

Terry Morgan, Crossrail Chairman said: “Today’s visit was a great opportunity to show the Prince and Duchess at first-hand how Crossrail will transform rail travel across the capital and how apprentices and graduates such as Jack, Bob and Akif are helping us deliver Europe’s biggest construction project. Having started my own career as an apprentice, I care passionately about the value of investing in high-quality skills training. It is fantastic to see apprentices and graduates now working on Crossrail. It underlines the importance of investing in a new generation of construction talent to drive the industry forwards.”

When Crossrail opens in 2018, it will increase London's rail-based transport network capacity by 10 per cent and dramatically cut journey times across the city. As Europe’s biggest construction project, Crossrail is creating thousands of jobs and training opportunities.

There are currently 350 people working at the two Crossrail Farringdon sites, building two new ticket halls, passenger tunnels and platforms and preparation for the first tunnelling machine to complete the first section of Crossrail’s tunnel route in late 2013. When Crossrail opens in 2018, Farringdon will be one of the busiest rail stations in Britain and will be the very heart of London’s rail network linking transport services north, south, east and west.

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For further information contact the Crossrail Press Office on 020 3229 9552 or email pressoffice@crossrail.co.uk

About Crossrail:

The total funding envelope available to deliver Crossrail is £14.8bn. The Crossrail route will pass through 37 stations and run 118 km (73 miles) from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km (13 miles) tunnels below central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

Crossrail is being delivered by Crossrail Limited (CRL). CRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London. Crossrail is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and Transport for London.