The UK's epic Crossrail project in the Greater London area is helping to foster the usage of BIM by other major infrastructure projects in the country.

The 118-kilometre railway line is one of Europe’s largest infrastructure undertakings, entailing the construction of 41 kilometres in new tunnels to connect Berkshire and Buckinghamshire to Essex and South East London via the centre of the UK capital.

Bentley Systems’ Steve Cockerell said Crossrail’s extensive usage of BIM played a critical role in the compilation and coordination of the vast amounts of data involved in the project.

“The ability to manage all types of information with projects of that scale and complexity is vital – there’s so many different disciplines involved, and so many different types of related data,” he said.

Cockerell noted in particular the crucial importance of the trove of data amassed during the design and construction for the subsequent operation and maintenance (O&M) phase – particularly for rail projects.

“I think the ability of BIM to prescribe a set of standard processes means that anything that’s captured is captured in a consistent manner, which can then be handed over to operations and maintenance,” he said.

“Instead of getting boxes packed with drawings or mixed-up data, they’ve got a consistent set of detailed information. They know the geometry of the track, they know the information about the extraction fans and pumps in the tunnels, they know about the drainage information, and they are able to access that to able to maintain it, as well as better rectify any problems should different parts break down.”

According to Cockerell, the successful application of BIM to Crossrail will help foster its adoption with other major infrastructure undertaking in the UK, such as the country’s ambitious HS2 project, which see the connection of London, the English Midlands and North West England with the nation’s second high-speed rail line.

“Crossrail has done a lot of the learning for HS2,” he said. “The Crossrail team have been working on the project for a good period of time, and they themselves would admit that they would show the scars from the lessons they’ve learnt.

“They’re very eager for that knowledge to be passed on and to influence other infrastructure projects as well. Crossrail CEO Andrew Wolstenholme is very keen for the project to leave its mark on UK infrastructure – if not world infrastructure – in order to drive down costs and increase safety, as well as deliver a greater return on investment for funding that the government is providing to these projects.”

 The developers of HS2 have already affirmed their commitment to BIM, releasing a comprehensive study in October to determine if the supply chain is capable of working in line with Level 2 BIM.

The study indicated that 94 per cent of the supply chain already make use of BIM, and over 50 per cent of the supply chain already has some levee of familiarity with Level 2 BIM.