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British Tunnelling Society at The Institution of Civil Engineers THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Reflections on 40

British Tunnelling Society


The Institution of Civil Engineers



Reflections on 40 years in Tunnel Contracting

Colin Mackenzie BSc(CE) a tThe Institution of Civil Engineers 20 June 2002. 5.30pm




Anthony Umney,BSc CEng FICE, Chairman, British Tunnelling Society

T here has been an increasing demand for the use of underground space in urban areas around the world as our cities have become more and more congested. Tunnelling technology has equally taken enormous strides for- ward over the last 30 years. This has enabled tunnellers to meet these new demands whilst the improved per-

formances of the Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) have held the costs of tunnelling against the generally increasing costs of construction.

Inevitably these advances with tunnel technology have been matched by ever increasing demands and the chal- lenges faced by today’s tunnellers have led to difficulties in two areas. The first has been the difficulties experienced with the insurance of tunnel works, and a second the recent collapse of gardens at Lavender Street on a Channel Tunnel Rail Link TBM Contract. For the former the BTS has been working with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to develop a Joint Code of Practice for the Procurement, Design and Construction of Tunnels and Associated Underground Structures in the United Kingdom. The objective of this Code of Practice is to promote and secure best practice for the minimisation and management of risks associated with the design and construction of tunnels. Contract insurers will require compliance with the Code of Practice, and although the Code has not yet been published the industry is already effectively using the current draft of the Code. For the latter, the BTS is proposing the re-estab- lishment of the Closed Face Working Group (CFWG), originally established to report on serious failures on two recent UK tunnelling projects at Portsmouth and Hull. Union Railways have agreed to this tunnel review as being a construc- tive move to reassure not only the HSE but also the ABI. It is intended that the CFWG will be chaired by an independ- ent person and its brief will be to include the assembly of data from incidents that have occurred in other parts of the world.

The BTS have also recently established an All Party Group for Underground Space (APGUS). This has provided an important opportunity to lobby Government on the benefits of the use of underground space and the capabilities of our tunnelling industry. The BTS has experienced a welcome increase of membership and the number of entries received this year from the Second Tunnel Industry Awards reflects an increased focus on the important part tunnelling is taking in UK construction today.

The Fourth Harding Memorial Lecture was delivered by Colin MacKenzie. Colin has spent some 40 years in tunnel construction and in his lecture he has been able to pass on to the younger engineers in particular the benefits of his experience. Colin is probably the longest serving graduate of the Institution of Civil Engineers! This he relates was due to all his documents, prepared for his professional interview, being destroyed in a site office fire and with his busy work- load and without modern means of reproducing his documents he never managed to sit the interview. Colin’s career has covered a very full range of tunnel construction in the UK and more importantly his contribution to it. His lecture demonstrates the importance he has placed on safety from an early age and some lessons that can be learnt.

This Fourth Harding Memorial Lecture should be essential reading for today’s aspiring tunnel engineers.



Colin Mackenzie BSc(CE)

Colin Mackenzie retired in May 2001 after a 40 year career in Civil Engineering, much of which was on Tunnelling projects.

In 1961 he graduated with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Aberdeen, and immediately went to work for Mitchell Construction on the Awe Hydro-Electric project in Argyll in Scotland.

After three years of rock tunnelling and dam construction, he left wonderful Loch Awe to join Mowlem on the Victoria Line Project in London and there got his introduction to soft ground tunnelling.

He remained with Mowlem for 24 years, with that time split about 50/50 between tunnelling and other branches of Civil Engineering.

The projects with which he was involved include the Victoria Line (Victoria to Oxford Circus), the New London Bridge (where he was Construction Manager for four years), the first Piccadilly Line extension into Heathrow, the East West Tyne & Wear Metro Tunnels, the Lewes Road Tunnel, the Carsington Aqueduct Tunnels, the Don Valley Sewer Tunnels, the two Dorchester Bypasses, the Okehampton Bypass, the QE2 Conference Centre Substructure in Westminster and the Molesworth Cruise Missile Shelters.

From 1982 to 1988 he was a Director of Mowlem Civil Engineering Ltd.

In 1988 he transferred his allegiance to AMEC, initially as Director for Tunnelling, and subsequently in a wider role encompassing other Civil and Airport works.

The AMEC tunnelling works included two major sections of the London Ring main, the Fylde Coast Tunnels in Blackpool, tunnels for Anglian Water at Clacton and at Ipswich, together with numerous other projects scattered across the UK.

He completed his career with a three year stint as the Resident Project Director on Contract 102 of the Jubilee Line Extension Project (the section which included Westminster and Waterloo).

Colin served on the BTS committee for nine years, including two years as Chairman in the early 90s.

Colin is a recipient of the Telford Gold Medal of the Institution of Civil Engineers and of the James Clark Memorial Medal of the British Tunnelling Society.

THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Colin Mackenzie BSc(CE) Colin Mackenzie retired in May 2001 after a 40

The author (left), at the Clacton Clearwater Project of Anglian Water, with his daughter Karen, AMEC Project Manager Alan Barker, and AMEC’s much-travelled and very capable 2.5m od Lovat TBM

named ‘Karen Fiona Mackenzie’ after his daughter.



Harding Memorial Lecture

Reflections on 40 years in Tunnel Contracting

The fourth Sir Harold Harding Memorial Lecture was delivered by Colin Mackenzie BSc(CE)at the meeting of the British T unnelling Society held at the Institution of Civil Enigineers on Thursday,20th June 2002, 5.30pm

  • I never knew Sir Harold at a personal level, but

  • 1. Mowlem, and I frequently saw him in action as

    • I did have contact with him when I worked for

the first Chairman of this Society. At the time that the BTS came into being, in 1972, I was working on the first Piccadilly Line Extension into Heathrow and I lived in Pimlico, just round the corner from the ICE. It was easy, therefore, for me to attend every meeting, and that is just what I did, without fail.

  • 2. Harding was a formidable Chairman, often calling directly on individuals to make a con- tribution when proceedings were a little slug-

gish. I recall one occasion, when the merits of rock TBMs were being discussed, the Managing Director of Nuttalls, Richard Triggs, sitting near the front, minding his own business, when out of the blue he was assailed by Harding with the following question - “tell us Mr Triggs, do you feel that these new-fangled machines have a future, or would we be better advised to continue to drill and blast, as God intend- ed ?”. To his great credit, Triggs rose and gave a very interesting dissertation on the current state of devel- opment of rock TBMs. I don’t know whether Harding had a prior agreement with Triggs to call upon him,

but he made it appear to be spontaneous, and Triggs didn’t appear to know that it was coming. Together they made it memorable, the proof of which is that here I am telling you about it thirty years later.

  • 3. Some years afterwards, when I was the Mowlem director responsible for tunnelling, London Transport commissioned Mott

MacDonald to make a report on the condition of all the cast iron linings of all the LUL tunnels. Among other things, the report was required to identify the

manufacturers of the cast iron segments. Eventually, Motts managed to do that, with the exception of one type of segment which had a manufacturer’s casting mark which nobody could identify. It existed in a length of tunnel built by Mowlem some time before the First World War. Motts contacted me in Mowlem. I couldn’t help. I contacted John King. He couldn’t help either, but he suggested that I might try Sir Harold. I telephoned Sir Harold, who by that time was well into his eighties and in retirement in the West Country. He said that he was not familiar with that particular casting mark, but he undertook to look for it in some old papers which he had retained when leaving Mowlem.

  • 4. A week later he came up with the goods, in a letter which started off -“Dear Mackenzie”. That showed that Sir Harold hadn’t lost any of

his old Mowlem style. In old Mowlem you didn’t have a first name. To Sir Harold I was therefore just “Mackenzie”, to be addressed in correspondence as “Dear Mackenzie”.

  • 5. I telephoned him to thank him for his efforts. He was delighted to have solved a puzzle that had beaten everybody else, so delighted that

he regaled me with tales of how, in those far off days,

cast iron segments were manufactured in the North and transported by ship to Hays Wharf in the Pool of London, from where they were delivered to tunnel sites by horse and cart, with each segment swathed in straw to prevent it suffering damage as the carts clat- tered their way through the cobbled streets. I was really sorry when he eventually hung up. I could have listened to him for hours. As I reflect on that conver- sation now, I think of how appropriate it is that the Society honours his memory each year. Long may it continue to do so.


  • 6. I turn now to the lecture itself. When Peter South, on behalf of the BTS Committee, invit- ed me to give the lecture, I asked him if he had

any particular theme in mind. He replied that, while I had a relatively free hand, he thought that reflections on what I had learned during my forty years in the industry would be suitable. So that is what I have done. I propose to talk about some things that I have learned which are relevant to the management of tunnel contracts, and which I would like to pass on, mainly to the younger members of our profession. But you are not going to hear about Lovats and World Records and so on. I, and many others, have spoken enough about them in the past and they’ve been reported in great detail in the technical press. I’m going to talk about such things as Safety, Assessment of Ground Conditions, Partnering, Costing, Productivity, Payment of Labour, and about some issues concerning Engineers for tunnelling.



  • 7. I think that I should make you all aware that I have only ever been a contractor. In a career spanning almost exactly forty years I have

worked for only three companies - all contractors. Firstly, for Mitchell Construction, for three years on a Scottish Hydro-Electric Scheme – Secondly, for Mowlem for twenty four years on a wide variety of Civil Engineering projects – and, lastly, with AMEC for the final thirteen years of my career. I have never worked for a consulting engineer, nor for a client. Even my formal design experience was gained in a contractor’s design office. Accordingly, I speak as a contractor. So, if in giving my views from such a nar- row base, I stray from the paths of reasonableness, I have no doubt that I shall be held to account for it, preferably in the bar afterwards.


  • 8. The first subject which I am going to discuss is safety. That will come as no surprise to any- body who has worked for me. Safety was

always the first item on my agenda. It is an issue close

to my heart, possibly because I was introduced to industrial safety when I was very young. My father was a Marine Mechanical Engineer with a business in the port of Stornoway in the Western Isles of Scotland, mainly supporting visiting cargo vessels, the local fishing fleet and distant-waters trawlers operating out of Hull, Grimsby and Fleetwood. I, therefore, grew up in a state of constant awareness of the hazards which exist in an engineering environ- ment, because of the amount of time which I spent in the workshops or on ships and boats with my father. A concern for safety which developed in me at that time has remained with me ever since. That back- ground is also what stimulated my interest in mecha- nised tunnelling.

  • 9. Safety is a huge subject. I shall therefore confine myself to some personal observa- tions concerning safety in tunnelling. Good

safety management requires leadership from the most senior levels of any company. If there is any doubt of the sincerity of the commitment of the directors and managers to safety, that doubt will become a reality down the management line of a contract and it will make it impossible to achieve the best safety results. However, on some projects, providing the right sort of leadership is not enough. Sometimes individual projects present challenges which have to be resolved at ground level. I shall give you an example from Jubilee Line Extension Project Contract 102 where we came up with an idea which turned out to have impressive results. Contract 102 was the section which included Westminster and Waterloo. It was a 50/50 Balfour Beatty-AMEC Joint Venture, (BBA). It had the full safety support of both companies. It had excellent staff on site, excellent safety professionals, an excel- lent safety management plan and a variety of safety incentive schemes. It also had a very capable work-

force. Yet, despite all those advantages, safety per- formance, as measured by Accident Frequency Rate, was not as good as on some of our other contracts.

  • 10. Accident Frequency Rate is the number of Reportable Accidents per one hundred thousand working hours. It is a long estab-

lished measure recognised in many parts of the world. The 100,000 hours was, originally, an approxi- mation to a full industrial working life in the middle of the twentieth century. That is, approximately 50 years by 2000 hours per year. A modern working life will rarely have so many working hours, but the 100,000 is still a valid reference period.

  • 11. By late 1997, on Contract 102, despite our best efforts, the rolling twelve month Accident Frequency Rate was close to 1.0.

With a workforce of about 1250, and a staff of about 250, we seemed to be reporting a three day accident every week. Some of them were trivial, but each one was some form of personal injury, with all the unhap- piness that that brings. We were simply not able to drive down the frequency to our target level of 0.6. We made all sorts of detailed examinations and analyses of the accidents. These showed that the majority of the accidents were attributable to such things as defi- ciencies in access arrangements, edge protection, manual handling arrangements, and conflict between plant and personnel in restricted working space. Particularly worrying were the number of acci- dents arising from improvised expedient actions taken by foremen and engineers to cover gaps in detailed planning and method statements.

  • 12. By early 1998 we came to the conclusion that none of our accepted safety manage- ment techniques could produce the

results we wished to achieve. We therefore decided to have discussions with two HSE specialists who took a regular interest in the contract, independently of the HSE Inspectors and at a different intellectual level. Their names were Jim Nielsen and Steve Peckitt. We gave them free rein to examine all our arrangements and to talk to anybody in BBA. Their key finding was that the undoubted determination of my senior col- leagues, and of myself, to make the contract a safe place to work, was being diluted on its way down through the layers of site management to the work- place. I had suspected this myself but I was surprised by how widespread the HSE specialists had found it to be.

  • 13. I had my own reasons for concern. I had a lot of contact with the workforce through my frequent personal safety inspections. I

found most of the members of the workforce to be intelligent and conscious of the potential safety haz- ards to which they could be exposed. Much of my contact came through my making of “on the spot” awards for useful contributions to site safety and tidi-

ness. The awards were made to individuals and were in the form of tax-free Marks & Spencer vouchers for



£10, £20 and £50. (BBA paid the tax). Sometimes, when I queried why an individual was not dealing with an obvious defect, such as faulty edge protection at a high level within the Westminster box, I would find that he was unwilling to stop doing the work allocated to him by his foreman, in order to deal with the defect, because he was fearful of the reaction of the foreman to him taking such action on his own ini- tiative. It seemed to me that the attitude of some of the foremen was that the workers were there to do what they were told to do, and that anarchy would reign if workers were given the freedom to do things on their own initiative. I believe that this attitude is prevalent throughout the construction industry, and that it is a key factor in our safety problems.






Manual handling



All other groups


We concluded that we would have to find a means of delegating real authority to a level close to the actual execution of work. Of

course, such delegation would not relieve myself and my senior colleagues of responsibility for safety on the site. We decided to place our trust in the hands of our Section Engineers and in senior members of the workforce.

After much deliberation, we decided to cre- ate, on each of the sites, groups which we named Safety Task Teams. Each Task Team,

usually of eight persons, included trades charge- hands and was led by a Senior Section Engineer. Initially, no foremen were included in the Task Teams. The Task Teams were supported by Safety Professionals.

In common with many other sites the most important categories of accidents were as shown below.

50% 20% 20% 10%

Falls and trips at same level (Gravity) (Clear walkways)

Falls of objects from above (Gravity) (Edge protection)

Falls of persons to a lower level (Gravity) (Handrails, stairs)

Contact with machinery

My references to “gravity” are to draw attention to the fact that the force which drives all “falls” is the force of gravity. It is powerful and it is ever-present. We must guard against exposing ourselves to its effects at all times. The reference to “stairs” is intended to draw attention to my practice of insisting on the use of pro- prietary staircases rather than ladders. I generally permitted ladders to be used only where it was virtu- ally impossible to install staircases.

We asked the Task Teams to give priority to categories “a”, “b” and “c”, putting the “falls” category as top priority. It was

explained that, while the Task Team would receive corporate policy on safety management from above, its decisions on safety actions would NOT have to be sanctioned from above – these were to be implemented, forthwith, at section level by the Section Project Manager, with copies of the Task Team notes being passed to Project Director level in order to keep senior management fully informed of developments.

  • 18. At two week intervals, each Safety Task Team made a formal inspection of its sec- tion of the works, and then held a meeting

to discuss the findings, to decide how to deal with the safety deficiencies found on site, and how to prevent such deficiencies occurring in the future. The inspec- tion and the discussion usually occupied about four hours. Following the site inspection the Team marked a standard inspection scorecard whose format had been agreed with myself and my fellow directors. A sample scorecard from Westminster is shown in Appendix 1. The Section Engineer then completed a succinct record of the team’s discussion and deci- sions, and prepared a coloured graph of the scorecard results for that day, with comparisons with the scores of previous inspections to illustrate trends in the scores. A sample report chart is shown in Appendix 2. The decisions and recommendations of the Task Team were usually implemented without delay through the Chargehands and the Section Project Manager, the latter ensuring the full cooperation of the Foremen.

  • 19. The improvements in safety performance were surprising and rapid, and applied across all types of work. Within a few weeks

of the introduction of the new arrangements the acci- dent frequency dropped markedly and set out on a trend which culminated in over 1.6 million manhours being worked without a single reportable accident, ie a frequency rate of 0.06 – approximately ten times better than our supposedly ambitious accident fre- quency target at the time when the Safety Task Team concept was introduced. Thereafter, the improve- ment was sustained to the completion of the con- tract, albeit at a figure slightly above 0.06.

  • 20. Some people have tried to pooh-pooh the importance which we have attributed to the Safety Task Team concept, but

nobody has put forward a sustainable alternative explanation of the dramatic improvement which we experienced. I believe that the implementation of the

concept achieved the observed results through the following factors.

  • a. It mobilised the latent capabilities of a large intelligent workforce.

  • b. It immobilised the antiquated attitudes of some of the Foremen.

  • c. It proved to everybody that a ZERO accident frequency over an extended period is a realistic objective.



  • 21. I am convinced that a dramatic improve- ment in the safety performance of the industry could be achieved if formal

basic safety education were to be given to every member of the workforce and if companies had the confidence to trust them to apply it, as we did on Contract 102.

  • 22. There is one other aspect of safety which I wish to mention. It is that I noted, over the years, that certain engi-

neer managers had fewer accidents on their sites than others who, superficially, appeared to be just as well qualified and just as interested in safety. These were the engineers who had done a lot of temporary works drawings and programming. It seemed to me that in the planning of temporary works these engi- neers had developed enhanced visualisation skills. They therefore spotted safety hazards well in advance of actual construction and either designed out these hazards or drew attention to the need to manage them. This could have important implications for safety as more and more drawing is done, as a spe- cialist activity, by CAD technicians rather than, as part of their regular duties, by site engineers.

  • 23. The ability to visualise, especially from drawings, is a vital facet of good safety management. This has important impli-

cations in tunnelling as, in my experience, very few tunnel foremen are good at reading engineering drawings. Somebody who hasn’t got good visualisa- tion skills isn’t likely to spot hazards until it is too late to manage them properly. Such a person may there- fore take dangerous expedient actions when the haz- ards are unexpectedly encountered, especially if he is in a position of authority to instruct the workforce to take such actions.

  • 24. However, the latest 3D CAD software offers us the opportunity to use Virtual Reality techniques to take everybody,

stage by stage, through graphical displays of the pro-

posed construction procedures. When I say every- body, I especially include the relevant trades of the workforce. 3D graphics proved useful on Contract 102 for giving everybody an appreciation of what we were constructing, a much better appreciation than was possible from conventional drawings which very few site personnel could fully interpret.


  • 25. I turn now to the matter of assessment of ground conditions. As an engineer working for a contractor, generally

under conditions of contract in which ground risk was shared with the client, I was taught that I must be alert to changes in ground conditions and to the pos- sibility that these might provide a basis for claiming additional payment. I was taught to base my assess-

ment of what was “reasonably foreseeable” on the

information provided with the tender documents, placing particular emphasis on the borehole infor- mation. That approach seemed to me to be rather simplistic, as the geology I had studied in university made me aware of just how non-uniform soils and rocks can be. However, it appeared to be the accept- ed practice, and we often got paid for what appeared to me to be rather fine differences. The argument often used by the contractor, and accepted by the Engineer, was that the typical tender period of a few weeks did not really give the bidders time to carry out extensive research. Almost needless to say, I was taught to only ever mention “worse” conditions, never conditions “better” than those in the tender.

  • 26. These arrangements may have provided a more or less equitable means of deal- ing with so-called “unforeseen condi-

tions” when tunnelling was being carried out by handwork or by open faced Greathead shields. But they do not provide for adequate assessment and management of ground risks when closed face tun- nelling machines are being used. In an open-faced shield it is usually possible to see the problem and get access to it to deal with it. With a TBM, especially an EPBM, it is rarely possible to see the problem or to get access to it to do something about it. A relatively minor unforeseen condition can therefore have a dis- proportionate impact on a TBM drive. So dispropor- tionate, in some cases, as to completely nullify the benefits which are supposed to flow from the use of a TBM.

  • 27. I feel that a very rigorous approach needs to be to taken to the matter of ground risk when TBMs are to be used, and that there

should be a requirement on the bidder to make clear exactly what he has allowed for in his bid, in a man- ner similar to that in which these things are dealt with in a Partnering contract.

  • 28. If the client proposes to award the con- tract to the lowest bidder, he would be well advised to make sure that the bid is

genuinely the lowest by requiring each bidder to pro- vide a fully evaluated risk schedule detailing what he has allowed in his bid for those risks which he may expect to share with the client.

  • 29. It almost goes without saying that all this will be pointless if the client doesn’t already have an Engineer properly expe-

rienced in tunnelling works. Contractors are expert at finding ways of portraying tender information in the most favourable light so as to get the cost allowances in the submitted bid as low as possible, and yet pro- vide a believable basis for subsequently claiming additional reimbursement. There is no doubt that these practices have too often made a farce of bid- ding under traditional forms of contract.



  • 30. Therefore, I was delighted when, around the end of the eighties, more collabora- tive forms of contract came into use. It

then became possible for all the contracting parties to pool their knowledge, together with the knowledge of any geo-technical experts engaged by them, to make a genuine, in-depth assessment of the ground in which the tunnel is to be placed, and of the risks associated with all the potentially difficult variations which might be found in that ground.

  • 31. But how should the assessment of the ground conditions be made ?. In recent years, I have usually adopted the following

policy for TBM drives. Having put together a bid team, we start by asking the best Engineering Geologist available to us to discuss with us the gener- al geology of the region in which the tunnel is to be located. We consult BGS Geology Maps, BGS Regional Geology handbooks and any other information avail- able to us. We then ask the geologist to put the SI information into the context of the overview which we have just discussed. We then usually ask the Engineering Geologist to describe to us how the ground came to be where it is now, and to describe the processes which, in the passage of geological time, have led to it having its present physical prop- erties. That request usually results in the geologist giving us a lecture about desert conditions, or about deposition in shallow marine water, or about glacial rivers, or about Tundra phenomena, etc., as appro- priate.

  • 32. In almost every case it is possible to iden- tify a region on the Earth where, at the present time, one can find conditions

similar to those which gave rise to the soils or rocks in

which it is proposed to drive the tunnel. If one then consults photographs or diagrams of that region in geology text-books, such as Holmes’ “Principles of Physical Geology”, (1), it is usually pos- sible to get a good appreciation of the variations which occur in the general conditions, variations which one may have to deal with, but which have not been exposed by the boreholes. The TBM will have to be made capable of penetrating these variations. In some cases this will lead to the TBM having features added to it, at substantial cost, to cope with some- thing whose probability of occurrence might be rather remote, but whose potential costs would be many times greater than the costs of equipping the TBM to cope with that particular condition.

  • 33. These deliberations usually require input from every discipline in the team. I made it obligatory that the decision on which

type of TBM to select, and how to tool it, be made by

a multi-disciplinary team, and be ratified by the Tunnelling Division’s Board. In my view, no individ- ual should be empowered to make that decision on his own. Anybody who takes it upon himself to do so is, in my opinion, asking for trouble.

  • 34. In passing, I should mention that I have seen companies attempt to place all the commercial risk inherent in these deci-

sions on the TBM supplier. My experience leads me to conclude that that is not appropriate. My view is that the risk should lie somewhere with the contract- ing parties. If the contracting parties cannot handle it, they shouldn’t be tackling a tunnelling job.

  • 35. Going back to geological issues, the dia- gram in Appendix 3, taken from Professor Peter Fookes’ 1997 Glossop Lecture, (2), is

helpful to the gaining of an understanding of the rel- evant geological processes which have created the rocks and soils of the UK. This diagram provides a wonderful insight into our geological history, and an understanding of how, for example, we come to have coal, Bunter Sandstone and so on. These tectonic movements are still taking place, at velocities similar to those at which our fingernails grow, according to an expert on a recent Radio 4 broadcast !.


  • 36. Turning now to Partnering. Earlier in this lecture I have used the expression “col- laborative contracts”, because that is a

generic expression which I have seen used by others. In most cases what I really mean is Partnering. Almost all the contracts for which I was responsible in the final ten years of my career were formal Partnering contracts, both in tunnelling and in gener- al civil engineering. I have been amazed by what we achieved on some of these contracts.

  • 37. I should mention at this point that I am not a “Johnny-come-lately” to Partnering. My first experience of what could be

regarded as a formal Partnering contract was in 1968, with Mowlem. It was the contract for the construc- tion of the East Greenwich Relief Sewer for the GLC. It was a “rush job” because a large, and politically important, contract for the southern approaches to the Blackwall Tunnel had been let before it was realised that, as a consequence of its design, a new sewer tunnel would have to be built some distance away from the approach works. This new sewer was not small. It was seven feet in diameter, in Thames Gravel, close to the river, and with its invert three metres below the water table. In addition, for a sub- stantial part of its length, the only alignment avail- able for the new sewer was alongside, and within a few metres of, the Southern Outfall Sewer which car- ried, I was told, something like a quarter of London’s sewage. I used to worry that, if we got it wrong, about a quarter of the population of London wouldn’t be able to go to the toilet !. Now, that really is something to get worried about !. The potential for embarrass- ment was acute.



  • 38. I don’t know the details of how Mowlem came to have the contract, but I under- stand that it was the result of very rapid

and close negotiation between Vincent Collingridge, the Mowlem Tunnelling Director, and senior GLC Engineers. The result was a form of contract based on the ICE conditions, but with “open books account- ing”, with limits on profit and loss, and with facilities for close cooperation between the GLC and Mowlem in regard to the management of the project.

  • 39. It worked very well. The works were com- pleted inside the very tight programme necessary to avoid disruption of the other

contract, and within budget. Despite the tunnel being relatively short in length, it was advanced on four faces simultaneously from two working shafts, with all tunnelling being carried out in compressed air. All faces were advanced using “clay pocketing” methods with Greathead shields and full horizontal face planking.

  • 40. But the success achieved in Greenwich wasn’t just due to the form of contract, nor to good Mowlem or GLC engineer-

ing. We were blessed with two wonderful things. The first blessing was a complete set of first class draw- ings which were not varied as the work progressed. We completed the works using the same bound set of drawings as we had been issued with at the start of the contract. The second blessing was a GLC Resident Engineer named Harold Bubbers, a brother, I believe, of the famous Bernard Bubbers of Motts. Harold was a superb engineer with a wonderfully calm diplomat- ic style which worked wonders with the many neigh- bours and authorities affected by our works.

  • 41. The list below shows that Greenwich had most of the factors which my subsequent experience has shown to be vital to the

successful and harmonious execution of tunnelling works.

  • a. People who “knew what they were doing”, ie appropriate specialists

  • b. Clear and unchanging construction requirements

  • c. A comprehensive assessment of construction risks

  • d. Contingency arrangements for dealing with these risks

  • e. A realistic budget

  • f. “Open Books Accounting”

  • g. Collaborative management of the project

  • h. An excellent engineering representative of the client who put a lot of effort into ensuring that construction never met third party “Red Lights”.

  • 42. I sincerely believe that there is no better way than Partnering for a client to get the required quality, the lowest costs for

that quality, and the best programme. Partnering is superior to traditional forms of so-called competitive

tendering because everything is out in the open from the start. It eliminates virtually all the ingenious con- tractual manipulation which has characterised com- petitive tendering, and which has run so many con- tracts into trouble. It mobilises the talents of the whole team and makes everybody concentrate on the out-turn result from the very outset of the project. It is the out-turn that the client wants to know, not the starting price. Clients do not like uncertainties.

  • 43. I anticipate that Partnering, in the course of time, will sort the more capable tun- nellers from the less capable. Partnering,

because of the openness of partner selection, gives a client an opportunity to “run the rule” over potential contractors, and designers, to an extent not open to him in other forms of contract. Clients have choices. Basic logic suggests that a client will choose to part- ner only with the best available to him.

  • 44. Long term “Framework” Partnering enables clients to get even greater bene- fits, benefits which arise from continu-

ous performance improvement. On the now-famous “BAA Paving Team” infra-structure works on UK air- ports, the client’s objective was to reduce his costs by 30%, in real terms, over a period of five years. That was one hell of an “ask”, but it was achieved. It would, almost certainly, not have been achieved if the work had been packaged as a series of individual repetitive Partnering contracts, even though these would, indi- vidually, have produced better results than other forms of contract.

  • 45. Although the client is the real winner from Partnering, the other parties also win. For example, Framework Part-

nering, and Partnering on large projects, enable con- tractors to invest in highly productive, but expensive, equipment and enables designers to develop the most cost effective designs and permanent works components. These developments make contractors and designers more competitive when pursuing later opportunities.

  • 46. But not everybody can partner success- fully. It calls for styles of personal con- duct to which some people can not con-

form. The traditional, fiercely competitive, and some- times secretive, nature of the tunnelling industry has nurtured quite a lot of people who endeavour to max-

imise their results through less than honourable commercial behaviour. There are also those who rel- ish absolute power and to whom collaborative deci- sion-making is anathema. These are to be found among all of the contracting parties, not just among the contractors.

  • 47. These factors have been recognised by several clients, as a result of which we have found ourselves on a number of

occasions being assessed by Behavioural Psychologists engaged by the client to assist him in



contractor selection. Even people with good Partnering characteristics take time to make the adjustment from traditional forms of contract to Partnering. I said earlier that my first experience of Partnering was at Greenwich in the late sixties. My next experience of it was at Tooting Bec, with Thames Water and AMEC, at the end of the eighties.

  • 48. A major problem had arisen on Ring Main Contract 1A at the time when Thames Water was being privatised.

There was a significant difference between AMEC and Thames Water over extra payment for dealing with the problem. This was a most unwelcome com- plication of the privatisation arrangements. It was imperative that it be resolved in a manner which would enable Thames Water to have an immaculate privatisation prospectus. Thames Water therefore decided to switch from the traditional form of con- tract, on which the contract had been let, to an “open books” form of contract embodying Partnering. All historic differences were settled quickly, in order to create the right climate for the remainder of the works. The job went well thereafter, but some staff on both sides found the transition difficult. On the con- tractor’s side, some found it difficult to be open about such things as internal plant hire rates, and about how to calculate workforce bonus payments. On the client’s side, some found it difficult to treat the con- tractor’s staff as equals and to face up to sharing responsibility for decision-making in regard to pro- gramme. But, in both cases, good cooperative behav- iour became established after about two months. That cooperation became closer and closer as ideas emerged to overcome, completely, a potential pro- gramme delay of about eighteen months, and as more and more difficult work was successfully com- pleted.

  • 49. It has never been clear to me whether Partnering was introduced at Tooting Bec as an expedient solution to a pressing

privatisation problem, or whether it was meant to be the first step in a long term policy for the execution of capital works. As time passed, it turned out to be the latter, and provided both the technical and contrac- tual foundations for all subsequent Ring Main con- tracts, with their remarkable successes and achieve- ments. The industry owes a lot to Roger Remington of Thames Water, whose introduction of the I Chem E form of contract to tunnelling was such a courageous and far-sighted decision.

  • 50. Roger subsequently drew my attention to a specific, and important, benefit which Partnering gives to clients. It concerns

the effective use of capital. There was a stage in Thames Water’s capital works programme when Roger had responsibility for capital works worth about £200 Million, all of which were on an “open books” Partnering basis. He was called to the

Highways Agency to discuss Thames’ experiences of Partnering. The person he met in the Highways

Agency was also responsible for capital works worth about £200 million, but all of these were on the tradi- tional non-partnering basis. They compared the amounts of capital immobilised by each of them as provisions for legitimate contractual claims. In Roger’s case, the amount was £0.5 Million. In the Highways Agency’s case, the amount was £40 Million. I acknowledge that that is a simplistic comparison, but it serves to illustrate a fundamental point - Partnering gives clients greater certainty in regard to out-turn costs, and thereby enables capital to be used more confidently and efficiently.

51. After the Ring Main, we used our new-

found skills to win and execute further

Partnering projects with Thames Water in

the South, with United Utilities in the North West, and with Anglian Water in the East. These jobs were not without their setbacks, but in only one case did we and our client fail to deliver the goods. The one exception was a Thames Water contract in East Ham, where the contractor/client relationship at site just did not gel, and AMEC lost a lot of money because we had to meet the costs of overshooting the Final Target Cost. So the contractor doesn’t always make money on Partnering contracts. That example proved to me the crucial importance of the leaders at site being fully committed to Partnering, and of not reverting to traditional attitudes when the going gets tough. That was the third contract in a series of twelve partnering projects executed by AMEC Tunnelling up to the time of my retirement. It was never allowed to happen again.


In the course of these contracts we had some wonderful partners. In this context I feel that it is appropriate to comment

on the contributions to success made by three of the best partners with whom it has been my pleasure to work. They are Andy Miller of Thames, Steve Smith of United Utilities, and Adrian Henderson of Anglian. All of them are knowledgeable, unusually competent, and so self-effacing that I feel compelled to mention them for fear of them otherwise not being given the credit they deserve. In addition, each of them dis- played remarkable forbearance in putting the com- mon objective above any personal ambition or goal. And, none of them ever tried to be the contractor’s Agent, a common failing of some client representa- tives in the early days of a Partnering contract. Engineers like these are worth their weight in gold.

53. Although I have said that East Ham was

our only Partnering failure, that is true of

my AMEC experience. However, as a Joint

Venture partner of Balfour Beatty, we had a notable failure on Contract 102 on the Jubilee Line, where Partnering initiated by BBA was not reciprocated by the JLE. It was their loss. In my opinion, it cost them millions.



  • 54. So, Partnering has been a wonderful development for tunnelling, and we should do everything possible to foster

its adoption by all clients, but, in exchange, we shall have to continue to get better and better at what we do, to win and retain the confidence of clients in the Partnering concept.


  • 55. I now turn, but only briefly, to the subject of costs. I have been surprised by how many engineers have shown little knowl-

edge of costs. To some extent this has been due to contractors being very secretive about costs, and per- mitting only the most senior staff to be privy to them. Such a policy is a serious impediment to the proper professional development of engineers. I don’t see how an engineer can do justice to his responsibilities without a reasonable working knowledge of what things cost. You’ve got to be on top of your costs to be on top of your job.

  • 56. It has been my practice to get my staff on each job to compile for me a single sheet listing the current local costs of relevant

materials and resources. I started doing so in

Mowlem and I kept doing so until retirement. These exercises were intended to be as much for their ben-

efit as mine ..

Appendix 4 shows an example of one of

my standard lists of local basic costs. I had a similar

sheet for plant costs.

  • 57. Engineers should always have access to at least this level of basic costs. They can’t do local budgeting without them. Basic costs

don’t vary a lot from contractor to contractor. So there is no great risk inherent in a breach of confidentiality. What does vary is the productivity which each con- tractor achieves with these resources. The out-turn cost per unit of work can therefore vary substantially between contractors.

  • 58. Again, Partnering has been very good for the advancement of engineers’ familiarity with costs and productivity.

The “open books” nature of these contracts has com- pelled the contractors to develop costing systems which make information available much more rapid- ly than before, and more widely. The formality of “open books accounting” enforces a strict discipline on forecasting and costing, and on comparisons between the two – a better discipline than ever exist- ed previously in most contractor organisations.

  • 59. Engineers have to be careful not to try to become amateur accountants. Reams of figures, giving every detail of every aspect

of everything, are not what engineers need. Engineers need succinct, reliable information, rapid- ly. I believe in the single sheet approach. If, at each level of the project, you can’t get the information you

feel you need onto a single A4 sheet of paper, then you’re trying to collect too much data, and it will pro- gressively bury you. You will end up trying to figure out what’s wrong with the data rather than trying to figure out what the data is telling you. So keep it as simple as you can. Pay particular attention to trends. I emphasise that point. It’s the cumulative result that matters, not “flash in the pan” fluctuations which may be due to clerical indiscretions or to unusually favourable transient circumstances. Appendix 5 illus- trates my single sheet approach. It shows a sample single sheet of the direct costs of a typical medium diameter EPBM tunnel, unidentified for reasons of confidentiality.


  • 60. I shall now talk briefly on the subject of productivity. Something that is much more highly developed in tunnelling

than in most branches of civil engineering. There is much published material on the subject, so I shall confine myself to some of the aspects which I found to be of particular relevance to soft ground tun- nelling.

  • 61. Productivity is not production. It is a measure of the efficiency of production. In soft ground tunnelling it is usually about

finding the most cost effective balance between input

of resources and “rings in the ground”.

  • 62. Tunnelling equipment is in a continu- ous state of development. It has always been so, and it will continue to ever be

so. As a result, contractors, when planning or bidding for new work, regularly have to make assessments of the productivity which will be achieved by new equipment. They are able to do this by fragmenting the main production activity into a number of sub- activities, for most of which they will have existing productivity information. For example, a new type of tunnelling machine may be capable of excavating much more quickly in a certain type of ground than was previously possible. In estimating the time for one complete ring cycle the contractor will be able to rely on existing data for many components of that cycle.

  • 63. But where does all this existing data come from ?. Well, it usually comes from hours and hours of activity observation

and activity analysis by young engineers. Most of us have done it. In my case it started with recording data when rock tunnelling on the Awe Hydro-Electric

Project in Argyll. Mitchell Construction recorded comprehensive details of every round fired in every face on the project. That data was distilled and analysed at the end of each month. It resulted in very high outputs with modest resources. Discipline was tight, and downtime was virtually non-existent. I sup- pose it is no surprise that the company held the world



high speed record for rock tunnelling at that time.

  • 64. From there, I went to Mowlem on the Victoria Line in London, and got intro- duced to a more sophisticated level of

work study and activity analysis on the LUL Running Tunnel drum diggers. That set the pattern for my sub- sequent twenty four years with Mowlem, both in tun- nelling and in general civil engineering.

  • 65. So, my advice to all younger engineers, and to some more senior ones, is to col- lect and analyse productivity data at

every relevant opportunity and apply the conclusions of these analyses to continuously improve productiv- ity either by refining existing methods of production or by inventing new ones. You may find tedious the many hours you have to spend collecting and analysing data in the early parts of your careers but your efforts will be rewarded handsomely later in your lives.

  • 66. There is one aspect of tunnel drive pro- duction which I wish to touch upon before leaving this subject. It concerns

the early parts of tunnel drives, the so-called “Learning Curve Period”. I mention it because it is rarely shown on “Gantt Chart” programmes and has been a regular source of differences, between the contracting parties, in the reporting of progress. It’s something that I have been asked about many times.

  • 67. Over the years, I have analysed the records of many mechanised tunnel drives, and I have reached some conclusions as to how

to assess the so-called “Learning Curve Effect” on the early part of tunnel drive programmes. At this point it is necessary to refer to Appendices 6, 7, 8 and 9.

  • 68. Appendix 6 shows a typical tunnel drive programme, in “Time/Chainage” for- mat, for a medium diameter EPBM-type

drive launched through a pre-formed “eye” in the side of a shaft. It shows the TBM advancing a short dis- tance, using only the very short equipment train which it was possible to accommodate in the shaft, and then stopping to install more parts of the equip- ment train. Advance then resumes until sufficient tunnel has been driven to accommodate the full equipment train and pit bottom facilities. Following that final equipment installation phase, the drive resumes and continues to completion. Note that I have not shown a reduction of output when comple- tion is approaching. The final curve of the so-called “S-Curve”, so beloved of work study experts, is hardly ever noted in UK soft ground tunnelling, in my expe- rience.

  • 69. Appendix 7 shows the same programme with the equipment installation periods removed. Having reduced many TBM

drive records to this format I found that the tangent

point between the “learning curve” and the straight

line of the sustained output after the tangent point tended to be found at approximately 300 metres from the start of the drive. Analyses which I made in the 1970s, mainly concerning drives in clay, showed the tangent point to be found at a distance from the start approximately equal to three times the length of the equipment train being towed behind the TBM. With EPBMs the distance to the tangent point tends to be a little greater, ie the 300 metres referred to above. The difference may be due to the extra distance need- ed for the EPBM drivers to find the operational parameters for optimum machine performance in the more arduous ground conditions in which EPBMs are used. My conclusion is that a distance of 300 metres, from start to tangent point, is a good fig- ure to use in programming all advanced TBM/EPBM drives. However, that conclusion only fixes the dis- tance. It is still necessary to find a means of establish- ing the time to reach the tangent point.

70. Appendix 8 shows the same programme

line as in Appendix 7 but with two addi-

tional lines.

a. The first additional line is a line joining the ori- gin to the tangent point. I found that the slope of that line was approximately 50% of the slope of the

straight line of the sustained output after the tangent point. There was a range of values for the slope of the line but, as 50% was approximately a mean value, I feel that the 50% figure is a reasonable figure to use for general programming purposes, especially as, when the programme is being developed, the “straight line after the tangent point” is still an esti- mate. Most engineers and estimators seem to able to assess the sustained output after the tangent point with a reasonable degree of accuracy, but many have difficulty assessing learning curves. So, it seems rea- sonable to link the slope of the line between the ori- gin and the tangent point to the slope of the straight line after the tangent point. That being the case, I rec- ommend that the 50% figure be used, ie the average output over the learning curve period be taken to be 50% of the planned sustained output after the learn- ing curve period. The position of the tangent point at the end of the learning curve can thereby now be fixed in terms of both distance and time, for the pur- poses of both estimating and programming. b. The second additional line is a dotted line extrapolating, downwards, the straight line of the “sustained output after the learning curve” to inter- sect the horizontal axis, ie the time axis. The inter- cept, “The Learning Curve Effect”, between the origin and the intersection of the dotted line with the axis, can be calculated using the recommendations made above. However, the magnitude of that intercept will be between 2 weeks and 3 weeks for most practical TBM outputs. I recommend that the intercept be taken, for preliminary programming purposes, to be

  • 2 weeks for TBMs less than 4 metres in diameter, and

  • 3 weeks for TBMs above that diameter. That takes us

to Appendix 9.



  • 71. Appendix 9 is intended to show a simplistic programme for preliminary programming purposes. This simplistic Time/Chainage

programme is constructed by marking off, on the horizontal axis, an intercept equal in length to the sum of, (i) the time allowed for equipment installa- tion after the TBM has been launched, and, (ii) either 2 weeks or 3 weeks, as appropriate, for the “Learning Curve Effect”. A straight line can then be drawn from the end of that intercept to the end of the drive. The slope of the straight line is the same slope as for the straight line “sustained output after the learning curve”.


  • 72. I’m now on to my second last section. It’s about the payment of the workforce. A sensitive subject, but, now that I’m

retired, I suppose that I can speak more freely than I could as a tunnelling director.

  • 73. It seems that a lot of people think that the high levels of payment made, historically, to face workers on handwork drives were

due to the conditions in tunnel faces, to the arduous nature of the work, to having to work shifts, and so on. That is a misconception. These payments were EARNED under piecework arrangements in which the targets for the various elements of work were broadly in line with the targets for other types of civil engineering works. What was different was the men. They were the physical crème de la crème of the human race. They could have earned the level of money they got in tunnelling on other types of con- struction work. I have seen handwork miners EARN “tunnelling” money on deep “cut and cover” pipe installation and on major concrete pours.

  • 74. For example, Mowlem had a pipeline contract in Edinburgh at a time when tunnelling work was in very short supply

North of the border. A group of Donegal tunnel min- ers asked to be considered for employment on the pipeline. They were told that they would have to accept the bonus task already set out for a civil engi- neering workforce. They did so, and proceeded to produce outputs which earned them as much money as they would have earned in tunnelling. The same bonus task had been used with a civils workforce before the Edinburgh contract, and was used again afterwards, without outputs and payment levels being achieved comparable with those achieved by the miners.

  • 75. It wasn’t until I was at Greenwich, and we had to send miners for compressed air medicals, and the doctors started asking

questions about where we got these men from, that I

came to realise that handwork miners were not nor- mal human beings like the rest of the population. The doctors could always pick out the miners from the

other workmen. They told me that the best of them had lung capacities close to double the norm, “at rest” heart rates in the forties per minute, and superb bone structure and muscle development. In addition, most of them had been introduced to physical work at an early age and had developed mind-sets which could cope with unbroken hours of arduous toil. Interestingly, these are the same characteristics which distinguish the crack Tour de France cycle rid- ers from general sportsmen.

  • 76. The point which I am trying to make is that the high wages paid to handwork miners were EARNED by extraordinary

individuals from incentive payment schemes from which typical construction workers would have earned only typical construction wages. There is no fundamental reason why the high payments made to these supermen should be made to normal individu- als just because they are working in tunnels.

  • 77. Machines have removed most of the need for supermen. It makes no sense to invest in machines AND pay “handwork” wages

for using them. However, it is a fact of life that, in the

UK, levels of pay for mechanised tunnelling have been allowed to drift upwards to levels previously associated with handwork. This is not the case out- side the UK. It is not my intention to discuss the rea- sons for the UK anomaly. I shall say simply that I have never been happy about it.

  • 78. When I came to London in 1964 to work for Mowlem on the Victoria Line, all underground work was carried out on

the basis of “piecework”, with all piecework “Tasks” being expressed in “Hours” rather than in money. One “Hour” was worth the Working Rule Agreement rate for one hour for the grade of employee for which the task was set. That meant that there was a lot of stability in these “Tasks” because general inflation had no effect on them. Some “Tasks” on the Victoria Line had been in existence for many years, unchanged, from earlier LUL projects. However, in 1972, following industrial unrest across the whole of the construction industry, there was a 25% increase in the base rate in the Working Rule Agreement. Tunnelling contractors decided, as a group, to stop setting prices in “Hours” and to switch to setting them in monetary terms. It was an effort to mitigate the effects of such a substantial increase, but it meant that thereafter all pricing was exposed to the effects of general inflation. The stability of pricing was lost forever. Estimators and managers were then present- ed with serious difficulties in setting prices and “Tasks”. The entry of Trades Unions into tunnelling, and the end of “Hire and Fire”, both in the mid seven- ties, generated even more uncertainty.

  • 79. As an Agent, and as a Contracts Manager, I had a difficult time after 1972 endeav- ouring to assess movements in the labour

market and trends in the pricing of “Tasks” and bonus



schemes. But, I kept good records, with the result that

by 1980 I had sufficient data to allow me to draw up a

set of tentative guidelines for my own use. I found

them to be effective and I have updated them pri-

vately ever since. They have their roots in the old

“Hours” system, in an attempt to eliminate the effects

of general inflation.

  • 80. Appendix 10 is a graph of how I link pay- ment to output for a TBM Ringbuilder – the grade of employee which I have

selected for use as a benchmark. Ringbuilders are

important. They install the permanent works which,

after all, is the object of the whole tunnelling opera-

tion. Appendix 11 shows my guidelines for linking the

payment of the Ringbuilder to the payment of the

various other grades of employee on a typical TBM


contract .. Appendix 12 shows how to cal-

culate the costs of employing these grades at these

levels of payment. (Note that the example given in

this appendix is for output matching programme

requirement.) Appendix 13 shows my guidelines for

the payment of a top class “handwork” Miner

engaged on works requiring excavation to be carried

out using hand-held pneumatic clay spades, and

spoil to be loaded by shovel. A handwork Miner is

usually a member of a tightly knit gang whose num-

bers are dependent on the diameter of the works

being undertaken. As an approximate general guide,

the Leading Miner of the gang is paid 7.5% more than

the Miner, and the Miner’s Labourers 7.5% less than

the Miner. The determination of the level of payment

to be made to “handwork” miners should only be in

the hands of engineers/managers who are very expe-

rienced in this type of work. Top class “handwork”

miners should be treated with the utmost respect.

The enormous effort which they put into their work is

a much more personal thing than the effort put in by

workers engaged on machine tunnelling, where the

main brunt of the work is borne by the machine. Men

are not machines, and should never be treated as


  • 81. I hope that you will find the information to be useful. I emphasise that it is for guideline purposes only. The figures

should be reviewed in the light of all the circum-

stances of any specific contract and may have to be

tuned to suit. I would be interested in hearing from

others who have done similar exercises.


  • 82. Finally, I wish to say a few words about engineers. Tunnelling is as technically challenging as any branch

of civil engineering, with the possible exception of

bridge engineering. Consider the challenges of the

Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) and the Jubilee Line

Extension Project (JLEP), and then consider if there

are other civil engineering projects comparable with


  • 83. Tunnelling is no place for “suck it and

see” engineering. Everything needs to

be fully engineered, and planned in

detail, before any construction work is put in hand.

Some decisions in tunnelling are virtually irre-

versible. For example, it is not possible to switch

TBMs in the manner in which it is possible to switch

even the biggest machines on surface works.

Tunnelling simply has to have top notch engineers.

All the easy tunnels have already been driven. The

future will almost certainly consist of hi-tech railway

and road tunnels, and difficult water industry tun-

nels. We shall need very good engineers for these


  • 84. To get them, we need to persuade

some of the best products of our

schools to become tunnelling engi-

neers because it is a stimulating and rewarding

career, and one which is worth pursuing through uni-

versity education and subsequent professional quali-

fication. But, we have to compete for the talents of

these young people against the many excellent

opportunities open to them in other professions. We

shall only do so successfully if the financial rewards

of following a tunnelling career are comparable with

those available from following other professional

careers. I am being deadly serious when I say that I

think that we need to approximately double the

salaries we pay currently in tunnelling to our best

professional engineers. I have done as much as I have

been able to do, to achieve that objective, within the

constraints of the human resources policies in the

large public companies in which I have held director

responsibilities. I have been fortunate to have had

some excellent engineers work for me. Not just civil

engineers, but mechanical engineers, electrical engi-

neers, electronics engineers and mining engineers –

all essential to successful tunnelling. I used to derive

a modest satisfaction from seeing the salaries paid to

them sitting at the top, or near to the top, of the com-

pany salary lists. But these salaries were still not high

enough to really catch the attention of top notch

school leavers.

  • 85. Likewise, I feel that we need to improve the working conditions for engineers. For example, I feel that they

should not be obliged to work twelve hour shifts as a

matter of course. In fact, I feel that we should drop

twelve hour shifts altogether, for everyone. I shall

come to that later.

  • 86. Some of you will, no doubt, tell me that we can’t afford to increase engi- neers’ salaries by as much as I have

suggested, because of the cost increases which will

flow from doing so. I shall try to demonstrate that the

effects will not be dramatic, and that they are well

within the improvements in costs which flow from

Partnering and from general improvements in effi-

ciency of working. I show, in Appendix 14, a table



which shows a typical pattern of costs for soft ground

tunnelling using a medium sized EPBM in a

Partnering environment. These costs are expressed as

percentages of Total Direct Costs, ie the total of

Temporary Works and Materials, Permanent

Materials, Subcontractors, Labour and Plant. That is

the form of presentation which I, at a personal level,

have found to be the most meaningful for examining

tender summaries. Dealing with the cost of engi-

neers, you can see that the typical cost of all staff is

12% of Total Direct Costs and, therefore, 8.7% of the

Total Selling Price. Less than half of that figure is the

cost of engineers, the remainder being the cost of

other staff. Doubling the salaries paid to engineers

would therefore, superficially, add around 4% to the

Tender Total. But I don’t believe that the figure would

actually be as high as that. The higher salaries would

attract the very best engineers, whose abilities would

go some way, if not all the way, to offset the superfi-

cial increase in costs arising from the increased

salaries. So, it might actually turn out to be a “no cost”


  • 87. I recognise that there is an argument that an increase in engineer salaries would create pressures to increase the

salaries of other staff. While I won’t try to deny that

argument, I don’t feel that that is a particularly strong

one, because the salaries of some other grades are

already high enough to meet market demands, for

example – foremen, and no other grade of employee

is as fundamentally vital to the industry as engineers.

  • 88. If you reject completely the idea that a reduction of the increased costs would be achieved through having the best

engineers, you could simply regard the 4% to 5% as

being the cost of attracting top quality school leavers

into civil engineering tunnelling – something that

appears to be necessary in any case from inspection

of recent trends in numbers of entrants to UK univer-

sities to study engineering.

  • 89. The increase which I have advocated

above would have to be made incre-

mentally over, say, a five year period,

but there would have to be some form of unequivocal

public commitment to it, to make potential students

aware that it was being made. In my judgement that

commitment will have to be made soon, or we shall

not have the engineers to meet the needs of the coun-


  • 90. Having already mentioned my dis- taste for twelve hour shifts, I would like to finish by putting forward an

immaculate economic argument for putting an end

to them, but I find that I am not able to do so. I find

myself facing the same difficulty as must have faced

reformers who argued for an end to slavery a couple

of centuries ago. The argument is essentially a

humanitarian one, but with an underlying conviction

that economic benefits will flow from a decision to

stop employing a working practice which has out-

lived its time.

  • 91. Nevertheless, I do have some evidence to support that conviction. I have had many contracts which operated a twelve

hour double shift work pattern, a number which have

operated an eight hour treble shift pattern, and a

number which have operated a ten hour double shift

pattern with a two hour gap between shifts. The pat-

tern of ten hour shifts with two hour gaps produced

the most satisfactory overall results. Production tend-

ed to be very good, and downtime tended to be very

low. And, perhaps most importantly, staff and work-

force were happier than under the other arrange-


  • 92. The twelve hour shift pattern is simply too brutal. The eight hour pattern is fine for the workforce, and for some of

the staff, but its intensity puts too much pressure on

the senior managers and supervisors who cannot be

on an eight hour pattern. My experience is that these

senior managers and supervisors get completely

worn out on contracts with eight hour shift working.

On balance, therefore, I strongly favour ten hour

shifts Monday to Thursday, and eight hours on

Fridays (to conform to European Working Hours reg-


  • 93. I recognise that some clients may not be over the moon with this proposal, but, over recent years, we have given

them enormous advances in predictability, quality

and speed of construction, together with substantial

cost savings through Partnering. I would like to think

that most of our client partners would agree that we

have earned the right to a more civilised existence.


(1) Holmes, Professor Arthur & Dr Doris, 1978, Principles of Physical Geology, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd, Sunbury on Thames.

(2) Fookes, Professor Peter G., 1997, The First Glossop Lecture, The Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology, published by the Geological Society, Volume 30, Part 4, Nov 1997.



THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Appendix 1 15

Appendix 1



Appendix 2

THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Appendix 2 16


THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Source: Fookes, Professor Peter G., 1997, The First Glossop Lecture Appendix 3

Source: Fookes, Professor Peter G., 1997, The First Glossop Lecture

Appendix 3



Appendix 4

THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Appendix 4 18


THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Appendix 5 19

Appendix 5



Appendix 6

THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Appendix 6 Appendix 7 20

Appendix 7

THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Appendix 6 Appendix 7 20


THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Appendix 8 Appendix 9 21

Appendix 8

THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Appendix 8 Appendix 9 21

Appendix 9



Appendix 10

THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Appendix 10 22


THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Appendix 11 23

Appendix 11



Appendix 12

THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Appendix 12 24


THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Appendix 13 25

Appendix 13



Appendix 14

THE 2002 HARDING LECTURE Appendix 14 26